Restoring Donbas: the main events during March 30–April 5
23:37 / 06 Apr. 2015 / 445
Last week became another week of ceasefire between the parties of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. The most important news about Donbas and the lives of displaced persons related to the social and economic issues. In particular, Administrative Court declared the decisions of The Cabinet of Ministers on termination of social payments in uncontrolled territories to be invalid. This news resonated across the media. Meanwhile, the economic situation remains complicated both in Donbas territories (under Ukrainian control) and the territory of the self-proclaimed republics. This is confirmed by news from companies on both sides of the demarcation line.
Territories under Ukrainian control
Events for April 2 were related to implementation of social benefits to residents of uncontrolled territories of Donbas. In particular, Kyiv Appeal Administrative Court ordered the state to resume such payments. Paragraph 2 of the decree of the Cabinet of Ministers from November 7, 2014 was found illegal and invalid by the court. According to this provision, social benefits will be carried out to uncontrolled territories (Donetsk and Lugansk regions) only if this territory is under the control of public authorities. Meanwhile, Pavel Petrenko, Minister of justice, has already announced that his department will appeal against this decision and he believes the court’s decision is populism.
Another Ukrainian institution, Ministry of Social Policy, reports about payments to displaced persons. According to Vitaly Muschinin, the Deputy Minister of Social Policy, more than 905 million hrn of assistance was contributed to displaced persons during three months in 2015. The Deputy Minister also noted that during all time nearly 1 million. 195 thousand displaced people (876.6 thousand families) were affiliated in social protection of the population departments. Meeting between representatives of the Ministry of Social Policy and displaced persons, which was organized last week, became a serious challenge for officials. Specific complaints from displaced persons were caused by Resolution №509 and 79 of the The Cabinet of Ministers, which regulate the issue of registration.
Meanwhile, the community initiative “Restoring Donbas” implemented on its website new legal tool – online help for displaced persons and residents of ATO area. This became possible through the involvement of qualified practicing lawyer working on a voluntary basis.
Another important piece of news in the social sphere was the fact that the Department of Education and Science of the Donetsk Regional State Administration extended the opportunity to register for External testing for graduates, who are in the uncontrolled territories, until 20 April. In this case, they will take a testing on the Ukrainian language and literature on June 9 and all other subjects – according to schedule of substantive session (from 3 to 26 June).
Furthermore, the Donetsk Regional State Administration stated that Donetsk regional broadcasting company started its test broadcasts last week. According to Oleg Nalivaiko, the head of the State Committee of Television and Radio, company still broadcasts in test mode in digital format T2. Mykola Bilous, Adviser to the Chairman of the Donetsk Regional State Administration, promised that broadcast “would be adequate.”
Economic situation in the part of the Donbas, which is under Ukrainian control, cannot be called stable. Actual division of the region and economic collapse affect on enterprises painfully.
Thus, in Ugledar employees one of the largest state mine in the region “Yuzhnodonbasskaya №3” has not received salary for six months. In this case, mine has never been under the control of the DNR. Moreover, before mine administration located in Donetsk, but its documents were re-registrated in Ukrainian territories after the beginning of ATO.
The situation on the territory of the self-proclaimed republics
Leadership of LNR and DNR keep on strengthening its power on the territories under their control. Last week, it was engaged in the disarmament of civilians. Actually, it was declaring a war to uncontrolled armed groups. Thus, Alexander Zakharchenko , the head of DNR, announced the requirement to disarm. He noted that those, who have refused to comply with this “decree”, will be recognized as the participants of armed groups. Their disarmament and elimination will be conducted by special operations. The leadership of LNR announced the same requirement after DNR.
In addition, LNR is going to start issuing passports showing all the datas in Russian language. The passport will be issued in the presence of residence registration and (or) stay on the territory of LNR within 10 working days from the date of application. The document will contain the name, first name, sex, date and place of birth, the personal signature of the individual.
The social situation in Ato area remains complicated. Last week Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) held a public survey among the residents of Donbas, who were on both sides of the front. According to the research, it became known that 45% of residents of Donetsk and Lugansk regions do not have enough food. According to the survey, the number of local people who “live hard, but you can bear this cross,” increased from 48% to 63% comparing to December 2014, and 7% believe that “things are not so bad and you can live” (in December – 5%), while the number of those, who believe that “it is already impossible to take out distressful situation,” decreased from 43% to 30%.
Another research organization, namely, Ukrainian Institute of strategies for global development and adaptation, this week conducted an analysis of the situation of mined areas in Donbas. According to the Institute, the clearance of Eastern Ukraine areas may lasts for decades. According to their estimates, in most cases, minefields were placed illiterate and without mapping minefields.
The economic situation in the region remains complex. In particular, large-scale enterprises, which take place in uncontrolled territories. For instance, “Donetskstal” finished 2014 with a loss of nearly 5 billion hryvnia. Alchevsk Metallurgical Plant in the Luhansk region still stand idle. However, it may resume production in the near future (people are working on organizing the delivery of raw materials and finished goods, including through Russia territory.
Purchases of coal is the only economic touch point between separated parts of Donbas at the official level. Last week Volodymyr Demchishin, Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine, stated that in April Ukraine plans to export 500 thousand tons of coal from the ATO area. As expected, the supply of coal will replenish stocks in warehouses of thermal power plants, which currently amount to about 200 thousand tons, which is a record low for Ukraine.
International support and prospects for the development of the situation
This week, Ukraine and Germany signed a memorandum of understanding between the governments. According to this document, Germany will allocate 500 million euros for the restoration of Donbas. The money will be spent on the restoration of the construction, reconstruction, overhaul and modernization of infrastructure in such scopes: transport, energy and heat, energy efficiency, water supply, sanitation, social infrastructure, restoring and building of housing.
Estonia is going to assist Ukraine (in particular, to displaced persons from Eastern Ukraine). According to the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government will allocate 200,000 euros to support internally displaced persons in Ukraine. Funds will be channeled through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
In its turn, the UN, intends to cut humanitarian aid to residents of Donbas due to funding problems. “The delivery of humanitarian aid is expected to decline significantly as funding is still extremely low: it was obtained only 16% of the declared for 2015 in the amount of $ 316 million”. It was noted in report. However, the UN is ready to assist in carrying out demining operations in the conflict zone in Donbas and look forward to a formal request from the Ukrainian side.
Last week, the UN published the data on those, who died for the whole period of armed conflict in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. According to it, during the ATO it was killed 6.1 thousand people and 15.4 thousand were injured. Only from mid-April 2014 to 27 March 2015 it was killed 6 thousand and 83 people and 15 thousand 397 were injured. In addition, according to UNICEF in March 2014, at least 109 children were seriously injured and 42 children were killed as a result of a collision with mines and other explosive objects.
Meanwhile, Alexander Hug, Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission, who arrived last week in Donetsk, stated that it is necessary to cancel the demarcation line in Donbas. So that civilians living in the region, could return to normal life. According to him, residents of settlements, which are located along the line of conflict, should just go back to civilized life.
Last week Oleksandr Klymenko, the ex-minister, founder of the community initiative “Restoring Donbas”, stated that there is a need to provide residents of Eastern Ukraine with normal conditions for life. He stressed that a new class of super-rich people, who could benefit from the war in the Donbas, is forming in Ukraine nowadays.