In the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, the winters are long and hard. The sub zero temperatures last for months, and this makes life in the hastily repaired houses an ordeal. There is not enough coal for heat, and the water supply is on the verge of collapse. In theory, Ukraine has plenty of coal. But due to the ongoing conflict, it is no longer being supplied to thousands of civilians.
Dramatic impact on the civilian population
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has severely and dramatically affected people’s daily lives. According to United Nations estimates, more than four million people in Ukraine rely on humanitarian aid, in the form of food, water and basic everyday items. More than three million people have fled eastern Ukraine – some to neighbouring countries, others within Ukraine. Most of those left behind are elderly, retired, sick or disabled. In fact, the percentage of old people in the affected population is higher than for any other humanitarian crisis in the world. Many aid organisations can however no longer reach people in areas that are controlled by the separatists, and the separatists often flatly refuse to grant international NGOs access to those who are in need.
The conflict has claimed the lives of more than 2300 civilians, and a further 9000 have been injured. At the same time, landmines, unexploded ordnance and booby traps pose an ever-increasing threat. In 2017 alone, more than 85 people were killed by landmines and booby traps.
Together with German and international partners, the Federal Foreign Office is helping the affected population with emergency repair work on destroyed homes, food aid and medical care. Just as importantly, they are supporting the provision of drinking water and sanitation. Psychosocial programmes are being run to help people cope with their experiences in the war. Another component of Germany’s comprehensive assistance package is mine and ordnance clearance.
Germany is the largest bilateral donor
Through these efforts, and by providing a total of 74 million euros in aid since 2014, Germany has become the largest donor for tackling the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. In 2017 alone, more than 23 million euros were provided to various aid projects, including those of Caritas, the German Red Cross and the World Food Programme. Ukraine will remain a focus of German humanitarian assistance in 2018. Germany will fund projects to help the needy population there and will press for humanitarian access to areas controlled by the separatists. All parties to the conflict have made pledges to this effect in the Minsk agreements.
In addition to this humanitarian assistance, some 26 million euros have been provided by the Federal Foreign Office since 2014 towards the political stabilisation of Ukraine. These efforts focus on strengthening civil society and promoting dialogue and reconciliation in eastern Ukraine.