Skip to main content

Ukraine - COVID-19 Situation Overview No. 2, 18 May 2020

UN RC/HC Ukraine
Publication date
View original





• The United Nations provides global expertise and advice to the Government of Ukraine regarding the requirements and conditions for lifting quarantine measures and preparing the country's exit strategy. It also facilitates the Government’s efforts in consolidating and gathering the country’s COVID-19 related needs and support already provided, aiming at building a transparent monitoring tool for the Government and international partners.

• On 11 May, the Government of Ukraine began to implement its five-stage quarantine phase-out plan with the loosening of some of the restrictions while extending certain quarantine measures until May 22.

• Recognizing the challenging task of concurrently balancing the imperative to protect the population and to reinvigorate and stimulate the economy through easing quarantine while minimizing the spread and impact of COVID-19, the United Nations continued to call on all stakeholders and the public to remain vigilant as the lockdown measures are relaxed according to the gradual plan.


The impact of the crisis on the socio-economic situation

• The COVID-19 virus pandemic, in particular the quarantine measures, have pressed for additional external resources to be mobilised and resulted in changes to the state budget. A significant slowdown of business activities and labour supply shocks have already had an economic impact, the magnitude of which will be influenced by how the COVID-19 crisis evolves in Ukraine and globally. Ukraine’s exportoriented economy depends on international markets, and the lag in renewed production and consumption will depend on developments over which the Ukrainian authorities have limited control. Measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 and avoid overloading the health system have had a dramatic impact on smalland mediums-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimated that around 700,000 small-scale enterprises in the service sector as well as educational institutions, which employ 3.5 to 4 million people, have closed. The SMEs most impacted by the quarantine restrictions are those in hospitality, tourism, retail, entertainment, creative industries, as well as hairdressing and beauty salons. These industries all have a high proportion of women-led micro-enterprises and female employees.

• The UN Women Rapid Gender Assessment of COVID-19 implications was conducted between 21 March and 12 April 2020. It reveals that women are at the frontline of response to the COVID-19 pandemic, making up 83 per cent of health and social workers in Ukraine, and assume the primary responsibilities in the household. However, they are not represented sufficiently in crisis committees (less than 20 per cent) that are coordinating the prevention and protection measures during COVID-19 pandemic at all levels. The study provides evidence that the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related restrictive measures expose women and men to higher risks of losing incomes and savings, but, in general, women are disproportionally affected.

• The situation is particularly acute for women from vulnerable groups, including: women with disabilities;
Roma women; female military veterans; single mothers and carers; women living with HIV/AIDS; older women (65+), female entrepreneurs; female carers of family members with disabilities who are at higher risks of extreme poverty and food insecurity, and of being trapped in closed spaces with perpetrators of domestic violence, and with limited or no access to basic services and resources.

• The quarantine also exacerbates the problem of gender stereotypes and patriarchal social norms regarding women’s and men’s roles in the family, since the significant burden of unpaid domestic and care work during the quarantine rests on women. The lack of advanced forms of remote learning for schoolchildren during the quarantine causes an excessive continual burden on parents and, most of all, on mothers: 78.9 per cent of female respondents who have school-age children said that, during this period, they dramatically increased their level of their engagement in educating their children. Women and children are experiencing an increased level of domestic violence and face difficulties in accessing a referral mechanism due to the restriction measures. Gender-based violence (GBV)-related requests are continuing to grow during the quarantine. In April, the national hotline on GBV response, operated by La Strada and supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), received 2,048 calls, i.e. a 56 per cent increase compared to March; 97 per cent of cases of violence addressed by UNFPA-supported services are attributed to domestic violence.

• In Ukraine, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) conducted the U-Report poll on the access and quality of distance learning among school-aged children. The poll revealed that: more than half of U-reporters use online tools; 66 per cent reported an increased workload; 70 per cent successfully organized themselves for distant learning; and around 61 per cent did not like their current mode of distant learning • As countries around the world introduced travel restrictions and closed the borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many Ukrainian nationals remained stranded abroad. In March, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Ukraine launched the Zakhyst (Protection) Programme to assist Ukrainians abroad through the efforts of embassies and consulates: almost 16,000 Ukrainians have registered in the Programme and needs are increasing daily.

• The International Organization for Migration (IOM) conducted express surveys, which revealed that 81 per cent of surveyed beneficiaries of IOM Ukraine livelihood programmes from nine regions reported a significant impact of quarantine measures on their business operations; almost one-half reported a full shutdown and 34 per cent reported a partial shutdown.

• The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR)/United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) began collecting data on the deterioration of the human rights situation of the Roma in Ukraine, following the enforcement of anti-pandemic measures, with the support of UNHCR and UN Women. Preliminary findings indicate that this vulnerable group lacks equal access to health care, information on COVID-19 and social security, and is experiencing a loss of income and an insufficient access to water. In addition, they have recently been the target of hate speech.

• Persons with disabilities face increased barriers in accessing health care, food and education, and there is an insufficient supply of social services to meet their growing needs during the quarantine.
OHCHR/HRMMU is concerned that persons with mental disabilities who are currently residing in psychiatric hospitals risk losing access to housing, food, health care and social care due to significant cuts planned in funding to psychiatric facilities and the lack of alternative support within the overall reform of the health system.

• Since late March, OHCHR/HRMMU has been monitoring the situation of older persons in institutions in Ukraine. Several facilities reported shortages of personal protection equipment (PPE) and sanitizers, and a lack of COVID-19 tests. The Mission has observed a lack of access to medical care for older persons with health issues not related to COVID-19, and the lack of public funding for food for staff who stay in the facilities for extended hours in order to decrease the residents’ potential exposure to COVID-19.

• OHCHR/HRMMU observed that persons in the situation of homelessness faced problems accessing health care, shelter, water and sanitary facilities, food and livelihood opportunities, both due to the pandemic and to the Government’s prevention and response measures.

• The COVID-19 response is put at risk by the inadequate integration of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services for infection, prevention and control (IPC) measures of health-care facilities. A significant scaling up of WASH services at health-care facilities is necessary to support prevention and control measures, and to avoid a disruption in the provision of health services.

• Although at lower rates comparatively, new cases of COVID-19 are still being confirmed daily in Ukraine.
An unconstrained and spontaneous disregard of quarantine measures by the population remains a major challenge in containing the epidemic in the absence of wide-scale testing and proper epidemiological surveillance. While the Government of Ukraine has transitioned into an ‘adaptive quarantine’, it is ready to enforce stricter quarantine measures at the local level if outbreaks of the disease are registered.