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|2021 planning figures|
|15,200||IDPs and conflict-affected people, and 2,800 refugees and asylum-seekers, to receive legal assistance|
|2,640||IDPs and conflict-affected people to receive long-term, permanent shelter|
|800||IDPs to receive cash grants and 875 IDPs to receive in-kind support|
|500||people of undetermined nationality to be assisted with confirmation of nationality|
|2019 year-end results|
|2,800||IDPs received primary legal aid while nearly 200 received secondary legal aid|
|2,700||IDPs received shelter support|
|2,200||asylum-seekers received psychological counselling|
|2,000||IDPs with specific needs in GCA benefited from targeted cash assistance|
|200||people at risk of statelessness were assisted through national partners to have their nationality confirmed|
|75%||of refugees had access to primary health care|
|75%||of refugee children had access to the national education system|
People of Concern
Operational environmentLow-intensity armed conflict continued along the contact line in eastern Ukraine: the number of civilian casualties from the conflict in 2018 decreased by 54%, while the number of damaged houses decreased by 84%. However, the ongoing armed conflict, with the related restrictions on freedom of movement, the continued suspension of social benefits and pensions to hundreds of thousands of people, as well as mine/UXO contamination, continued to significantly affect the lives of IDPs and conflict-affected persons along the contact line. Security conditions continue to constrain the carrying out of recovery and development activities.
In this context, UNHCR’s engagement in protection, shelter and delivery of core relief items remained relevant throughout 2018. The implementation of activities in government-controlled areas (GCA) proceeded smoothly. Variable operational constraints in non-government-controlled areas (NGCA) meant various unavoidable delays in the implementation of humanitarian programmes in 2018.
Protection challenges for IDPs and people affected by conflict remained. In positive developments, Ukraine adopted an action plan on durable solutions for IDPs and improved conditions at checkpoints in 2018, while the parliament passed a law on mine action. However, there was little progress on key issues such as payment of pensions and social benefits to people residing in NGCA, making the system of birth registration more responsive to the needs of parents in NGCA, expanding IDPs’ access to social and affordable housing, or ensuring IDPs’ right to participate in public affairs.
While there was some progress on the asylum process, the Government’s competing priorities hindered the improvement of the asylum procedure. Challenges included lack of sufficient interpretation and a low overall recognition rate, including for asylum-seekers from Afghanistan and the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria).
At the end of 2018, the legislation to introduce statelessness determination procedure remained pending. As a result, UNHCR postponed some capacity-building activities with state authorities. Instead, UNHCR provided legal assistance to persons at risk of statelessness and persons with undetermined nationality.
Population trendsAs of the end of 2018, Ukraine hosted close to 2,620 refugees and some 6,410 asylum-seekers. The majority originate from Afghanistan and Syria, while some 60 other countries of origin are also represented. At the end of the year, the number of stateless persons was estimated at some 35,000.
At the end of 2018, some 1.5 million people remained internally displaced. In addition, some 151,000 Ukrainians have received international protection in neighboring and other countries.
Key achievementsUNHCR aimed to strengthen the refugee status determination procedure for asylum-seekers, while focusing on local integration for refugees. There were few substantial changes in the quality of the asylum procedure in 2018; the recognition rate remained low, but stable. UNHCR shifted its strategy to focus more on integration using a community-based approach, implementing 18 peaceful coexistence projects bringing together refugees, asylum-seekers and host communities, and supporting 23 refugee community groups. A total of 355 people received livelihoods support, and as a result of consistent advocacy and a labour shortage in Ukraine, employers became more willing to hire refugees.
Regarding the prevention and reduction of statelessness, the parliament registered a draft legislation on introducing a statelessness determination procedure, but did not yet consider it in plenary session. UNHCR trained state officials on statelessness, conducted joint advocacy, and through legal partners, assisted 148 persons in confirming their nationality.
Along the line of contact, UNHCR delivered emergency response to people affected by the armed conflict with a particular focus on isolated communities close to the line of contact. Humanitarian shelter interventions reached over 3,000 people in both GCA and NGCA. UNHCR began the process of handing over shelter/NFI coordination to the state authorities, which hosted their first national cluster meeting in late 2018. UNHCR provided legal assistance and case management and delivered material assistance to IDPs and conflict-affected people, particularly to the elderly who were affected by the irregular payment of pensions and social benefits.
The people in the NGCA have been waiting for the adoption of a law that would facilitate a more accessible, administrative procedure for registration of births in NGCA. However, the provision has not yet been implemented, and no rise in birth registration rates for babies born in NGCA was registered in 2018. Following advocacy by UNHCR and partners, the Ukrainian authorities started to improve the conditions at the checkpoints along the line of contact. However, waiting times remained long, with half of surveyed people waiting for an average of 4 to 5 hours at the end of 2018.
UNHCR provided training and other support to the Free Legal Aid Centers, which were able to assist 39% more IDPs in 2018 than in the previous year. As a result of training, IDP community groups advocated more effectively for themselves, with several receiving financial support from local authorities. While the state adopted an action plan for its durable solution strategy, insufficient resources were allocated for the plan’s implementation. Due to insufficient funding of Government housing programmes, IDPs reported poor access to housing as a barrier to integration. UNHCR supported the authorities in evaluating its housing programmes in order to advocate for their future expansion.
Unmet needsThe restricted access to NGCA hindered the timely delivery of assistance. In NGCA, with more predictable humanitarian access and additional funding, UNHCR would have been able to make more progress toward meeting the humanitarian shelter needs of the remaining estimated 10,000 households. In GCA, reduced funding for shelter cluster partners meant that the coverage of humanitarian shelter needs was not completed as initially targeted for 2018.
Neither the state nor development actors have invested sufficiently in durable solutions for IDPs. UNHCR has concentrated its resources on the contact line and in NGCA where needs are most acute. This leaves few resources to promote durable solutions for IDPs in the rest of Ukraine where the UNHCR’s focus is limited to advocacy, legal assistance and community mobilization, while durable housing solutions are still unavailable.
In 2018, UNHCR identified over 300 persons who are undocumented and at risk of statelessness in GCA of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, but did not have resources to provide legal assistance to address their situation.
Together with WHO, ILO and FAO, UNHCR has developed an area-based initiative for southern Donetsk Oblast. This contribution to the humanitarian-development nexus has not yet started because of lack of financial support.
Since recognition rates remained low, asylum-seekers had few prospects to obtain documentation, work legally and become self-sufficient. Neither language classes nor employment assistance was available to refugees.
As of end-2016, more than 1.6 million people were registered by the Government of Ukraine as internally displaced. UN agencies use a triangulated IDP figure of approximately 800,000 to 1,000,000, as outlined in the 2017 Ukraine Humanitarian Response Plan. UNHCR’s response forms part of inter-agency efforts and focuses on three main objectives: advocating for and responding to the protection needs of conflict-affected people; providing emergency assistance and ensuring non-discriminatory access to quality essential services; and, improving the resilience of people of concern, preventing further degradation of the humanitarian situation, and promoting early recovery and social cohesion.
UNHCR continues to lead the shelter/non-food item (NFI) and the protection clusters. The security situation in eastern Ukraine remains volatile and can hinder delivery of humanitarian assistance to people in need. It is hoped that the resolution of obstacles to humanitarian access in non-government controlled areas will enable UNHCR to enhance its assistance delivery.
Challenges remain in securing protection and durable solutions for IDPs and other conflict-affected people, including restrictions on freedom of movement and humanitarian access to affected populations. Long delays, including overnight stops, at crossing points put civilians at risk, especially people with specific needs. UNHCR continues to support measures to facilitate and expedite crossings. The situation of people residing close to the line of contact remains especially concerning, as they lack access to regular services and protection, including social benefits and pensions. UNHCR continues to work closely with community-based organizations to support IDPs and people at risk of displacement.
Although no major new displacement is expected in 2018, in view of the challenging economic situation, many residents of non-government controlled areas may continue to move to government-controlled areas or to commute across the line of contact. It is assumed that the number of IDPs will slightly decrease throughout the years.
As of November 2017, Ukraine was hosting some 3,253 refugees and 5,464 asylum-seekers. The majority of refugees and asylum-seekers originated from Afghanistan and the Syrian Arab Republic, with more than 70 other countries of origin also represented. More than 35,000 persons were estimated to be stateless as of end-2016. UNHCR will continue to work with the Government to bring the national asylum system in line with international standards, including in terms of prospects for local integration of refugees. Several important legislative initiatives relating to the asylum system have been recently adopted, such as amendments to the Refugee Law in the area of registration (improvement of the recording of personal data) and adoption of joint State Migration Service and State Border Guard Service instructions concerning transfer of asylum applications.
UNHCR will support the Government in adopting legislation to ensure that no child is born stateless, protection status and documentation are issued to stateless persons, and birth registration is issued for prevention of statelessness. Moreover, UNHCR will advocate for the introduction of simplified procedures for issuing birth certificates for babies born in the non-governmental controlled areas. UNHCR will also provide legal counselling/representation related to the prevention of statelessness, as well as to stateless persons on obtaining statelessness documents and on naturalization.
In 2018 UNHCR will focus on:
- Continuing to lead the shelter/NFI and the protection clusters, and fostering partnerships with IDP communities, international organizations, civil society, and central and local governments;
- Strengthening UNHCR’s presence in areas with large numbers of IDPs;
- Maintaining a strong protection monitoring and advocacy role and promoting access to durable solutions for IDPs (local integration or return);
- Responding to protection concerns of and acute humanitarian gaps faced by IDPs and vulnerable populations/communities by: providing cash grants, legal and social counselling, as well as life-saving NFIs and shelter support for those at highest risk; implementing community projects for people with specific needs in non-government controlled areas and along the contact line; and fostering peaceful coexistence between IDPs and host communities;
- Ensuring the continuing participation of the Government in the regional quality assurance initiative in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus, with the aim of strengthening asylum procedures by conducting capacity building for first instance decision makers, the judiciary, and border guards; and
- Supporting the Government in the identification of stateless persons and developing relevant legislation to end statelessness, including through the establishment of a statelessness determination procedure.