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Humanitarian activities in crisis situations in Ukraine: Recommendations to overcome legal and administrative obstacles in the regulation of humanitarian aid

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Humanitarian activities in Ukraine in response to the pandemic and conflict

According to UN estimates, in the seventh year of the armed conflict in Donbas (the country’s east) an estimated 3.4 million conflict-affected people in Ukraine still require urgent humanitarian assistance and protection services. These humanitarian needs are now expected to grow further as a new crisis, connected to outbreak ofthe coronavirus disease COVID-19, looms. Both the protracted crisis related to the armed conflict in Donbas and the consequences of the pandemic outbreak require immediate humanitarian response. This includes the urgent supply of laboratory tests to identify infected individuals, personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers and medical equipment to treat COVID-19 infected patients in serious conditions, delivery of PPE, hygiene and sanitation products for vulnerable populations, and ensuring access to safe water, supporting livelihoods and ensuring the protection of those affected by the conflict. Furthermore, considering the long isolation period and its negative impact on the economy, we should do our utmost to plan for and support early recovery in the country, and strive for a newly sustainable and inclusive economy that leaves no-one behind.

Since the beginning of hostilities in the east of Ukraine and the outbreak of the coronavirus disease COVID-19, dozens of humanitarian non-government organizations (NGOs) have been providing critical humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable affected populations: women and children, older people, and those with disabilities or chronic illness, medical staff and facilities, residents ofsettlements along both sides of the contact line, and in particular the hard-to-reach villages – access to which is restricted due to lack of public transport, damaged roads and/or security measures.

These organisations providing humanitarian aid are, however, facing bureaucratic and legislative problems which hinder the timely and effective delivery of aid. Problems include time-consuming procedures for the registration of humanitarian projects, which can take up to six months, and shortcomings in the regulation of the taxation of aid, which puts an undue financial burden on humanitarian organisations, donors and, in certain circumstances, on beneficiaries. With a new crisis looming, it is now more important than ever to enable the swift and timely delivery of aid for the most vulnerable. This document therefore summarizes major shortcomings in the regulation of humanitarian aid, and provides specific recommendations for remedial measures from the perspective of implementing organisations.