Eastern Ukraine is still unstable due to the conflict that has persisted since 2014, between the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk on one side, and the Ukrainian government on the other. Since the beginning of the conflict, more than 3 000 civilians have lost their lives and more than 7 000 have been injured. Not to mention the trauma of the population: the conflict has affected 5.4 million people1.
The Minsk agreements signed back in 2015 have not led to any prospect of stabilization and peace. The maintenance of heavy weapons around the Contact Line, and the regular clashes between the parties to the conflict heavily affect the functioning of essential services, such as hospitals, health centers, schools, but also the livelihood of the civilian population.
There are 1.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and approximately 3.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, many of whom are elderly and children. Many people of working age have left the area, increasing the vulnerability of the remaining, often elderly, population.
1 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Description of the mission
Since 2015, Première Urgence Internationale has been implementing projects in Ukraine aimed at providing emergency health care as well as strengthening access to quality health services for people affected by conflict.
The NGO provides a response to the basic needs of people who regularly cross the Contact Line separating the areas controlled by the Ukrainian government from the areas administered by the self-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Première Urgence Internationale also provides support to families living near the Contact Line to improve their access to essential services, such as health care and hygiene services.
Premiere Urgence Internationale in action
In 2020, Première Urgence Internationale‘s teams in Ukraine continued their actions to support health care structures and to help vulnerable people access health care.
At the four crossing points in Donetsk, Première Urgence Internationale provided first aid services to people crossing the Contact Line until March. Following the closure of these crossing points, the NGO redeployed its teams to support the hospitals, conducting COVID-19 patient selection operations. Activity resumed at the Novoistroiske crossing as soon as it partially reopened.
Première Urgence Internationale has been very active in the response to COVID-19, strengthening the capacities of health centers, hospitals, and retirement homes. Hygiene kits and personal protective equipment have been distributed to the various institutions. Training on infection prevention and control measures has been provided and the NGO has supported health centers in setting up a contact tracing system. Hygiene kits were distributed to vulnerable elderly people and psychosocial support was offered to health workers and isolated people.
In addition, Première Urgence Internationale has continued its program of voucher distribution on both sides of the Contact Line, in order to remove economic barriers to access to medicines and surgical kits for pregnant women and children under five years of age, children under 12 years of age and elderly people with disabilities. Equipment and consumables were also distributed to health institutions.
In the Donbass, a situation of “no war, no peace” for civilians
Ioulia Shukan is a Ukraine specialist. She was on the ground during the big mobilizations of winter 2013/2014 and when the events turned into an armed conflict. Since then, this Eastern European country has become her dominant field of study. She looks back on her research and sociological studies.
Mental health and conflicts
The COVID-19 pandemic reminds everyone of the importance of taking mental health into account in our societies. Regarding humanitarian context, what consequences can conflicts have on populations?