NGO FORUM SENDS A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION SHOULD MAKE STRIDES TOWARDS IMPROVING THE LIVES OF THE CONFLICT-AFFECTED POPULATION
The election of Volodymyr Zelenskyy as the President of Ukraine, creates a new political reality in the country as well as a renewed hope for the settlement of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. For this reason, the Ukraine NGO Forum and its members have addressed the President, urging him to bring an end to the conflict and expressing their readiness to provide his administration with the perspectives and expertise necessary for well-informed policy making.
On 8 July 2019, the Ukraine NGO Forum and its members submitted a letter to the President of Ukraine, raising their concerns about the humanitarian situation in the east of the country, and asking for a meeting to discuss possible solutions (see below the English version).
The Ukraine NGO Forum represents 30 Ukrainian and international NGOs working to improve the lives of the conflict-affected people in eastern Ukraine. Five years into the protracted conflict and every day interaction with people in need have provided NGOs with a profound understanding of the humanitarian situation, and motivates them to advise the President on how to secure access to fundamental human rights and meeting essential needs for the people affected by the conflict.
NGO Forum members identified the key challenges that require an urgent response from the Ukrainian authorities, among them: attacks on civilian infrustructure (schools, hospitals, water and electricity facilities etc.); excessive restrictions on the freedom of movement along the line of contact; hindered access to social benefits and pensions for residents of the non-government-controlled areas and internally displaced persons; landmine contamination; complicated access to health care and psychosocial support; lack of effective procedures for claiming compensation for property damaged or destroyed as a result of hostilities or used by the military; and legislative and administrative constraints that complicate the work of Ukrainian and international humanitarian NGOs.
The Ukraine NGO Forum and its members hope that Volodymyr Zelenskyy takes this opportunity to establish a constructive and open dialogue with civil society, so that his Administration may make strides towards improving the lives of the conflict-affected population.
On 7 July 2019 the President visited the line of contact and the entry-exit checkpoint (EECP) in Stanytsia Luhanska and affirmed that Ukraine is ready to start rebuilding the bridge at this EECP in the near future. In the joint statement ’Advancing mutual commitment’ following the 21st EU-Ukraine Summit (Kyiv, July 8, 2019) Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, agreed, in particular, ‘to continue cooperating to address the socio-economic and humanitarian consequences of the conflict, highlighting the necessity to ensure the supply of water, electricity and gas across the contact line, to facilitate the movement of people and goods, and to ensure that the people living in areas not under Kyiv’s control fully benefit from their rights as citizens of Ukraine.’ The EU expressed its readiness to support Ukraine’s inclusive approach towards its citizens in the affected areas and play a leading role in reconstruction efforts of the country, including in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, once the Minsk agreements have been implemented.