Despite the fact that the ‘Harvest Ceasefire’ was broken within hours after coming into effect on 1 July, it still resulted in a 10 per cent decrease of hostilities in Donetska and Luhanska Oblasts – with 994 incidents recorded in July – as well as a decrease of civilian casualties from 38 in June to 18 in July, according to OHCHR. Widespread mine and explosive remnant of war (ERW) contamination continued to pose fatal risks to civilians, especially during the harvesting season when farmers worked on their lands. In July, three farmers were injured in mine-related incidents as their tractors drove over landmines buried in their fields. Another accident occurred when two children were killed after stepping on a mine in an open mine-contaminated field without warning signs.
Since the beginning of 2018, civilian casualties resulting from mine and ERW-related incidents accounted for 42 per cent of the total figure recorded by OHCHR. Despite high concerns, mine action is one of the two most underfunded sectors under the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), with only US$ 1 million received to date out of the requested US$ 9.2 million. Severe underfunding leaves a significant gap in response capacities, which urgently needs to be addressed. On a positive note, the Kyiv Court of Appeal announced the court decision to abolish the 2016 regulations on verification requirement for IDPs to obtain the social payments. The court decision is expected to facilitate IDPs’ better access to social benefits. The new law on “the legal status of missing people” was adopted by the Ukrainian parliament, granting a person the missing status from the day they are reported missing at the National Police Authority of Ukraine or after a court decision.
The law also entails the creation of a registry of missing or disappeared persons. According to the 2017 estimates, the number of conflict-related missing persons ranged from 1,000 to 1,500 people.