Restoring Donbas: main events during the 20-26 April
12:30 / 27 Apr. 2015 / 428
Last week became another week of fragile ceasefire in Donbas. The situation is not calm near Mariupol. According to the UN, the number of displaced persons from Donbas has reached two million people. In addition, the humanitarian situation in the regions beyond the Ukrainian control deteriorates, as well as the frontal area, which is under Ukrainian jurisdiction. More details in our weekly review of key news.
Displaced persons from Donetsk and Luhansk regions
Despite the ceasefire, which is mainly adhered for a long time, the flow of displaced persons from Donbas territories does not stop. According to the UN, nearly 2 million refugees and displaced persons had left Donbas. By April 16, more than 800 thousand Ukrainians have sought refuge in neighboring countries. During the last week, the number of refugees has increased on 23 thousand 600 people. It was also reported that there are 155 thousand children among the internally displaced persons in Ukraine. The conflict in Eastern Ukraine influenced on 5 million people (in general), and forced 1.23 million of them to look for a new place of residence among the country. It was stated be the press service of the UN.
Meanwhile, plethora displaced persons from Donbas cannot obtain a grant to pay for the LCD services.
It was reported by the Donetsk human rights activists. IDPs from ATO area were receiving state assistance for utilities (which is about 800 UAH) during six months. However, after this period they will lose this support. Nowadays, many of them think, where they can get money in order to pay for gas, electricity, hot and cold water. Plethora of them have tried to apply documents for subsidies to the Social Security authorities, but were refused, because they cannot provide a certificate of temporary registration in a peaceful area, or contract of a housing lease.
An additional and very serious problem for IDP is deprivation of all able-bodied persons of re-targeted assistance, which was paid for 6 months. This decision was made by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine last week.
In this situation, the launch of the project “Virtual offices of mutual assistance” by “Restoring Donbas” became the positive news for IDPs. The given project designed to coordinate people, who require assistance, and volunteers, who are ready to help them.
The pass-entry system
The pass-entry system in ATO area continues to work and deal with criticism from both civilians and public society activists, and individual government officials.
Special complaints related to the work of the electronic system (namely, taking documents). People massively send their documents for the processing. They do not know, whether Focal sector headquarters get it or not. E-mails often do not work properly. Thus, e-mail of Sector C (Artemovsk), which had not receive documents earlier, have resumed its work last week. However, it was reported that e-mail in sector B (Velikaya Novoselka) is still not working.
In addition, residents of the territories beyond the Ukrainian control are indignant that they cannot formalize so-called “electronic passes of ATO zone.” According to the rules, which were established by the Security Service, a person have to wait 10 days. Instead, the inhabitants of Donetsk and Lugansk regions, who reported a desire to get the appropriate pass, would wait for a response from the department for two or three weeks.
Problems with passes’ registration lead to the fact that the local population is trying to go to the Ukrainian side (using different methods) by paying a lot of money at checkpoints for the absence of pass. On the Ukrainian checkpoints, where border guards check passes, the price for transit without pass starts from 50 UAH to 200 UAH, sometimes reaches up to 1000 UAH. It was reported by volunteers in media.
Officials also criticize the pass-entry system
Last week, Anatoliy Naumenko, the head of the Main Department of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in Lugansk region, Lieutenant General of militia, said that passes in ATO zone are not needed. He believes that pass-entry system generates corruption, complaints of citizens and disbelief in that fact, that you can change something in Ukraine.
The leaders of the Donetsk region are talking about simplified procedure for obtaining passes and crossing the demarcation line. This week during a meeting of Alexander Kravtsov, acting as Chairman of the State Administration, with the security forces told about the possibility of simplifying of transit socially important goods for the population through the checkpoints. However, such a decision on a simplification was not made. Ukrainian border guards continue to detain cars, which try to drive to the uncontrolled territories. Last week, the border guards have reported about such 18 cars. According to State Border Service, cars were transporting goods without proper documentation and tried to go round the checkpoints, which were on their way.
In the territory of the unrecognized republics
Meanwhile, DNR have developed the concept of the restoration of coalmines. The main thesis of the document is – all the forces of “the Ministry of Coal and Energy” will be aimed at the restoring and production growth of 18 prospective mines. The coal’s reserves of other 19 mines (which are located on the territory of DNR) will be preserved until the end of hostilities.
Another important economic news on uncontrolled territories was the statement of Eugene Lavrenov, the Head of the strategy of industrial development office under the head of DNR” that Donetsk Metallurgical Plant (DMZ) and coke will export their products “abroad.”
DNR demonstrates the aspiration of further economy construction (autonomous from Ukraine).
Thus, the governance of the self-proclaimed “DNR” with their leader Alexander Zakharchenko, rejected the idea of the Ukrainian government to launch banking system in the occupied territories.
“Ukraine wants to run their commercial banks in DNR, to inject National Bank of Ukraine in the Republic,
to input here some security. We will not accept this,”- said Zakharchenko.
Also, DNR leadership stated that it would not take into account payments for electricity coming directly PJSC “DTEK Donetskoblenergo”, which is included in the business structure of Rinat Akhmetov. Payers, who have made payment for the consumed electricity by online services (PJSC “DTEK Donetskoblenergo” – ed.) will be considered as debtors, – said Elena Styazhkina, “Deputy Director of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy coal” DNR, explaining that the payments, which were made in such a way, “go to Ukraine.”
Cutting off the region’s economy from the rest of Ukraine goes from official Kiev. Thus, Vladimir Demchishin, Energy Minister, at a press conference said that since April 10, Ukraine has stopped paying for electricity that comes from Russia in ATO zone.
Also, this week, the company “Naftogaz” stated that it would not sign separate contract with the Russian “Gazprom” on gas supplies to the Donbas territory. It was stated by Andrey Kobolev, Chairman of the board “Naftogaz”. “We do not see any sense in it,” – he said. At the same time, he said that “Naftogaz” did not received such proposal from the Russian company.
The external independent testing on Ukrainian language among university entrants and high school graduates became an important event for students and graduates of schools from the ATO zone.
10,753 people from Donetsk region were passing the testing. 845 people among them – are graduates of schools, which are located in an area beyond the Ukrainian control.
This week, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, ruled out the possibility of military intervention of the EU in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. He stressed that today the only option for resolving the conflict in Donbas is diplomacy.
Meanwhile, due to the fragile ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine, the OSCE decided to increase the number of observers in Donbas. It is planned that by the beginning of summer the number of OSCE observers will reach at least 600 people.
NATO (another international structure) stated about the possibility of providing assistance to Ukraine in demining of controlled territories of Donbas. It was mentioned during a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the level of the Policy Committee and Partnership, which took place on Friday. Irina Gerashchenko, Commissioner President of Ukraine on the peaceful settlement of the situation in the Donbas, was informed.
Meanwhile, the President outlined the prospects of international assistance for the restoration of Donbas infrastructure, which he estimated could reach $ 2 billion. Poroshenko noted that he sees the willingness of Western countries to invest in Donbas after peace establishment and holding elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation.
Meanwhile, international assistance is still supplying to displaced persons and residents of Donbas. This week, UNICEF sent humanitarian aid to Lugansk. Help was intended for children with special needs, who remained in the city. In addition, it was reported that on April 28, Germany would give Ukraine the sixth humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons and the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.