The armed conflict of Eastern Ukraine will reach a five year milestone in 2019. With limited prospects of a lasting ceasefire, the ongoing fighting between government forces and armed opposition groups continues to affect the humanitarian needs of populations living in the contested regions of Ukraine. Areas that have seen some of the most severe impacts of the conflict are regions in the vicinity of the line of contact or the line separating Eastern Ukraine into government-controlled and non-government-controlled areas.
A direct consequence of the conflict has been the disruption of the provision of and access to basic services for the people living in Eastern Ukraine. The ongoing violence has significantly challenged the capacity of service providers to operate, which in turn has increased the vulnerabilities of households and individuals in regard to their needs for, for example, healthcare and education as well as access to markets and livelihood opportunities.
REACH conducted its first area-based assessment on service provision in the government controlled areas of Eastern Ukraine in 2016. Already then, the assessment noted the detrimental impact the conflict had had on service provision and employment. Two thirds of healthcare facilities were reported as damaged and education facilities were noted to have experienced regular shelling. Now, two years later, to explore timely challenges and investigate current developments, REACH conducted a capacity and vulnerability assessment in Yasynuvata raion, an area in the centre of regular military activity. Data for the vulnerability assessment was collected from January to February and included a household survey consisting of almost 600 face-to-face interviews.
The assessment findings noted that as a result of the conflict, populations living on the western side of the line of contact had largely been excluded from critical urban centres in the non-government controlled areas. This has further amplified the isolation of communities from access to basic services, and increased the demand and pressure on service providers in the government controlled areas.
Furthermore, REACH found that service providers in Yasynuvata raion have experienced significant damages to their facilities and have been forced to operate with limited equipment and supplies. Several service providers also underscored the lack of qualified staff. The challenges faced by service providers were echoed by households who continue to experience significant security risk, such as threats of shelling and mines. When it came to measuring satisfaction of the services available, households noted that since the beginning of the conflict, the quality of the services had reduced even though prices were noted to have risen.
In addition, households reported that employment opportunities had greatly decreased due to the closure of businesses, especially around areas closest to the line of contact. Prior conflict, large portions of the population of Yasynuvata were employed on the eastern side of the current border, an area now widely inaccessible.