Ukraine Humanitarian Fund continues to be at the forefront of humanitarian response
In 2020, the grave humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of people in the region already drained by the on-going conflict have been forced to deal with a health emergency on top of insecurity, reduced livelihood opportunities and insufficient access to health care and other basic services.
In this unprecedented time for residents of eastern Ukraine, the OCHA-managed Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UHF or Fund)* has enabled a flexible humanitarian response, including to tackle the effects of COVID-19, and quickly disbursed resources to ensure the provision of time-critical assistance to people in need on both sides of the 427-kilometre-long “contact line” in eastern Ukraine – equivalent to the length of the French-German border.
UHF’s allocations overview
Through its four allocations in 2020, the UHF disbursed US$7.5 million to 16 partners operating in Government-controlled areas (GCA) and non-Government-controlled areas (NGCA) of Luhanska and Donetska oblasts, targeting almost 360,000 people in need.
The first two allocations launched in 2020 (April and May) aimed to help the conflict-weary people and health systems of eastern Ukraine cope with COVID-19 and its impact. The UHF allocations helped almost 14,000 people by providing critical supplies, such as hygiene kits with sanitizers and personal protective equipment, to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. The Fund’s implementing partners also trained staff of 79 health facilities on the tracing of contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases. In total, 135 health facilities received medical equipment and were able to improve their capacity to respond to COVID-19.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to grow its footprint across Ukraine during 2020, the severe movement restrictions introduced early in the pandemic to help curb the spread of the virus hit the residents of NGCA particularly hard. The almost complete closure of the “contact line” on 22 March 2020 cut off hundreds of thousands of people from essential services and severely limited their access to social benefits and entitlements in GCA, including pensions.
Recognizing the specific challenges the NGCA residents were facing, the third and fourth UHF allocations (launched in June and September) primarily aimed to support humanitarian organizations to increase their response activities in areas beyond Government control and help NGCA residents get by during winter months by funding the distribution of solid fuel, coal and other winter assistance items. In addition, one of the two envelopes of the UHF’s fourth allocation was channelled to projects implemented together with local authorities in GCA to help build their capacity to gradually take over humanitarian service provision to local residents affected by ongoing armed conflict.
In line with the Emergency Relief Coordinator’s four priority areas that are often underfunded in emergencies, all 22 projects funded by the UHF in 2020 systematically supported people with disabilities and contributed to gender equality, continued education in emergencies and the provision of protection services to people in need.
Donors role in effective and timely response
The UHF has only been able to remain at the forefront of the humanitarian response in eastern Ukraine thanks to the continued support of donors. In 2020, 11 donors, including multilateral, bilateral and private donors, contributed almost $9.5 million, which represents around 7 per cent of the total funding received through the Ukraine Humanitarian Response Plan in 2020.
These generous contributions allowed the UHF to make timely funding allocations to respond to prioritized humanitarian needs in 2020. These funds also allowed the Fund to swiftly adapt to COVID-19 and to respond with greater flexibility, through simplifications in the current funding arrangements, yet keeping accountability over the use of funds.
We thank the Governments and people of Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Norway, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Sweden and the European Commission, as well as all individual donors for the trust, and count on the continued support of the Fund’s activities in 2021.
* The Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UHF) was established in February 2019 to help meet the most critical needs of the conflict-affected population in eastern Ukraine, which would otherwise go unfunded. The UHF is a tool available to donors to pool their contributions into single, unearmarked funds to enable humanitarian partners to deliver timely, coordinated and principled assistance within the framework of the Humanitarian Response Plans. The UHF also allows strengthening coordination and the role of the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) to ensure a principled response, strengthening access to people in need, particularly along the “contact line”.