Lesen Beschriftung Foto: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC

Fünf Dinge, die man nach fünf Jahren Konflikt in der Ostukraine wissen sollte

Kristina Nechayeva und Thale Jenssen|Veröffentlicht 10. Apr 2019|Bearbeitet 08. Apr 2019
Nach fünf Jahren bewaffneten Konflikts in der Ostukraine sind nach wie vor 5,2 Millionen Menschen von einer humanitären und Vertreibungskrise riesigen Ausmaßes betroffen. 3,5 Millionen brauchen humanitäre Hilfe und Schutz. Die Außenwelt scheint jedoch all das vergessen zu haben.

Hier sind fünf Dinge, die man über die Krise wissen sollte:

1. Zivilisten nehmen Gefahren auf sich, um ihre Familien zu sehen

Im April 2014 brachen in der Ostukraine gewalttätige Auseinandersetzungen aus. Seitdem ist das Gebiet in staatlich kontrollierte und nicht-staatlich kontrollierte Gebiete aufgeteilt. Infolgedessen ist die ehemals integrierte Gemeinschaft nun durch eine 427 Kilometer lange Frontlinie, die sogenannte „Kontaktlinie“ getrennt. Es gibt fünf Checkpoints entlang der Kontaktlinie – vier in der Region Donetsk und eine einzige, beschädigte Brücke, die die gesamte Region Luhansk bedient.

Jeden Monat überqueren rund 1,1 Millionen Menschen die Kontaktlinie, trotz der tödlichen Gefahr durch Bomben, Minen und nicht explodierte Kampfmittelrückstände. Sie überqueren die Grenze, um ihre Familien zu besuchen, auf den Märkten einzukaufen, sich Dokumente zu beschaffen oder Zugang zu wichtigen staatlichen Dienstleistungen wie medizinischer Versorgung zu erhalten, sowie auf der anderen Seite nach ihren Häusern zu sehen.

Die Menschen müssen an den Checkpoints stundenlang warten, sowohl im eisigen Winter als auch in der sengenden Sonne im Sommer. Trotz der erheblichen Bemühungen der Regierung und der humanitären Organisationen mangelt es an den Checkpoints immer noch an Grundversorgungsleistungen wie Hygieneeinrichtungen, Trinkwasser und Erste Hilfe.

Every day thousands of people, many of them elderly, have to cross the checkpoint between government controlled and non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine at Stanytsia Luhanska. The bridge is destroyed, making it impossible for cars to pass, forcing people to walk for several kilometres through no man’s land and wait for 3-4 hours to pass each way. 

For those who are unable to make the walk, Slavik is ready to offer transport for a small fee. He works at EECP every day.
“I use this wheelchair to transfer elderly people. They have the same problems: a small pension, and expensive medicines. There are many people. The elderly people constantly complain about life. They have to show up in person every month in order to receive their pension", says Slavik. 

Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/Norwegian Refugee Council.
Lesen Beschriftung Foto: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC

 

2. Seit Beginn des Konflikts wurden bereits über 3.300 Zivilisten getötet

Die Kampfhandlungen fordern einen hohen Tribut von der Zivilbevölkerung. Seit Beginn des Konflikts wurden über 3.00 Zivilisten getötet und etwa 9.000 verletzt. Mehr als 50.000 Wohnhäuser auf beiden Seiten der Kontaktlinie wurden beschädigt oder zerstört, ebenso wie Schulen, Krankenhäuser und Wasseranlagen.

Fünf Jahre aktiver Gefechte haben über weite Teile der Konfliktzone nicht detonierte Kampfmittel verstreut. Die Ukraine zählt hinsichtlich der Opfer von Minen und anderen explosiven Kampfmittelrückständen zu den am stärksten betroffenen Orten der Welt. Seit Beginn des Konflikts wurden 924 Opfer von Minen und Kampfmittelrückständen verzeichnet.

Die großflächige Kontamination durch Minen birgt tödliche Gefahren für die Zivilbevölkerung, einschließlich einer halben Million Kinder, die auf beiden Seiten in unmittelbarer Nähe der Kontaktlinie leben. Sie schränkt auch den Zugang der vom Konflikt betroffenen Menschen zu Märkten, medizinischer Versorgung, Landwirtschaft und Wärmeversorgung im Winter ein.

Many families have kept the shrapnels that damaged their homes. A visible reminder of the war many still hear the sounds of every night along the contact line. 
 
Liudmyla, 51 and Yurii Poleshko, 55, lives in the frontline village Zaitseve in Donetsk region. For the last three years they have been unable to find jobs and survive only owing to humanitarian assistance and relatives’ support. 

“We used to have levelled life. We did our own business. My wife owned a hairdressing salon, I was the owner of ventilation system control enterprise in nearby Horlivka (currently non-government controlled area). We were providing our services in several regions – from Luhansk to Zaporizhzhia in eastern Ukraine. However, the conflict, which came to our country in 2014, turned our life upside down. Initially, when the hostilities started, we tried to continue our work, but when the crossing point was set up in our village, we were urged to shut down all our business, because of limited access to that area. It was in August 2014. ”, - says Yurii Poleshko. 

Since the conflict outbreak, Zaitseve has become one of the hot spots of crossfire between conflicting parties. One part of the village is under Ukrainian Government control, another under de-facto authorities.  Despite the ceasefire agreement, the hostilities are still ongoing., Usually the shelling starts there, when it gets dark, sometimes the incidents happen in the daytime. At the streets you can hardly find its residents, people try not to come out unless it is absolutely necessary. Most of the windows in the houses are closed with plywood, firewood and shields. People use all possible means to protect themselves. Many residents left the settlement, mostly the elderly people remained. 

 “We felt abandoned. For a while it was no man’s land. In 2014 it was even difficult to bury someone in the settlement, because administratively the settlement was subordinating to non-government-controlled Horlivka”, recalls Yurii. 

“Initially we left the settlement in December 2014 after very heavy shelling, the whole night we were sitting in the basement. It was too stressful for us. For 8 months we were staying with relatives and friends.  Our friend even proposed to buy a house for us in Russia, but we refused, because there is nothing like home”, - says Yurii. 
“We cannot explain why we returned. We are probably too attached to the house. How could we leave all this? Yes, it is scary to hide in the basement. But when you come out from it you are home”, says Liudmyla. 

In 2016 Poleshko’s house was damaged by shrapnels. They could enter the house only through the window, because the door was curved by the explosion and could not open. The family repaired the house. However, when you enter the house, you can still see the shelling traces; holes in the windows, ceilings and walls.  
“I have nine years to wait before I can receive my pension. For three years we haven’t had any income. Now we are fully dependent on humanitarian assistance and our relatives”, - says Liudmyla. 

Recently, the Poleshko family started receiving cash for foodstuff from NRC. Thus, the family will be secure with food for five months during the cold season. 

“It is better to receive cash than to get in-kind assistance, because sometimes what you need is to buy the gas bottle before you can cook the food. Some people are on diet due to health issues, so they can buy food according to their own needs. For us such assistance is crucial. We are not pensioners yet. But we are vulnerable, because we cannot find the way to earn money. Psychologically it is difficult to depend on humanitarian assistance, as we used to be self-sufficient in the past”, - says Yurii.

Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/Norwegian Refugee CouncilPhoto: Ingebjørg Kårstad/Norwegian Refugee Council
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3. Die konfliktbetroffenen Menschen müssen unmögliche Entscheidungen treffen

Die langjährige Krise hat die Reserven der Menschen aufs Äußerste strapaziert. Familien verlieren ihre Existenzgrundlagen und haben keine andere Wahl, als ihr Hab und Gut zu verkaufen oder ihre Ausgaben so weit wie möglich zu reduzieren.

Die höhere Arbeitslosigkeit als in anderen Teilen des Landes und der starke wirtschaftliche Verfall zwingen die Menschen in der Ostukraine zu unmöglichen Entscheidungen – etwa ob sie von dem wenigen Geld, das sie haben, Lebensmittel kaufen, Medikamente bezahlen oder ihre Kinder zur Schule schicken sollen.

Die geschwächten Sozialschutzsysteme, die nicht zugänglichen Märkte und die Aussetzung von Sozialleistungen treffen diejenigen, die am stärksten gefährdet sind, wie etwa Senioren, Alleinerziehende und Menschen mit Behinderungen. Über eine Million Menschen, einschließlich der Binnenvertriebenen, haben keinen regelmäßigen Zugang zu Nahrungsmitteln und brauchen Unterstützung, um ihren Lebensunterhalt bestreiten zu können.

Iryna is 10 years old, and Liliia’s eldest daughter. She still remembers the night their house was hit. Iryna and her sibling all suffer from post-traumatic stress. It is hard to concentrate at school and she has nightmares and anxiety. “The main concern for me now is that the active phase of the war does not break out again. I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again. After all, we hear the sounds of shots every night,”says her mother Liliia. 

Background story:
Liliia Poturoieva is 39. She has experienced terrible events that completely changed the life of herself and her large family and left an indelible mark on everyone's soul. She lives in the frontline village of Verkhnia Vilkhova in Stanytsia Luhanska district, Luhansk region. 

Liliia has six children. The oldest is Oleksandr. He is 20. He lives separately from his parents and earns his own living. Ihor is 12. He is a shy and calm schoolboy, always ready to help parents with the housework. Her eldest daughter Iryna is 10. She is a schoolgirl and mother's main housekeeper. She cooks and looks after younger children. Yana is 7. She is a first-grade pupil. She is a cheerful, active and very energetic girl. The children are forced to go to school in a neighboring village 5 kilometers away, since there is simply no school in their village.

Her youngest son Illia,5, and daughter Aryna, 2, are always staying at home with their mother. The family cannot afford a kindergarten for children. Now Liliia is pregnant again. This will be the seventh child in the family. Her husband Viktor helps her to cope with all of them.

Before the conflict, the whole big family lived in a small house with two rooms. There was no work. The main income was child allowances and random earnings from the cows, goats, rabbits and poultry. 

“There was no work in the village. There was no opportunity to travel to other settlements to work. We tried to make money by selling milk”.

In February 2015, at midnight, heavy shelling began. Viktor, Liliia's husband, went out into the yard to see the direction of the shots. Suddenly a shell fell near their yard, and the second shell landed 7 meters away from Viktor, who was standing on the house porch. Viktor got a serious shell shock and lost his hearing for a while. 
The blast wave knocked out all the windows in the house. Under one of the windows there was a child's bed, where Liliia’s  youngest son slept. That night Liliia saved the life of her son with her son. 

“When the blast hit, I covered my baby with my own body, and the glass from the broken window hit me in the back”.

The consequences of that shelling are still noticeable. Liliia has problems with her speech. She is stuttering. She is not the only one.

“The children experience anxiety, concentration problems, fears and, as a result, urinary incontinence”.

The house was seriously damaged in the blast. All the windows were broken, the front walls were destroyed and the roof and the foundation were seriously damaged. However, Liliia and her family did not dare to leave because it was too risky to leave the house unattended. They tried to repair the house on their own. They covered the broken windows with plastic wrap. They even had to spend their nights in the basement because it was the warmest and the safest place in their household.There was no help from the local authorities. 

“At first I didn’t want to ask for help. I did not believe that anyone would really help us. My husband advised me to go to the NRC office and find out about the Heavy repair project, because he heard that NRC had already helped someone in the village”.

Now the house is in the process of restoration. There is a new slate on the roof. Renovation works on the walls have been completed. Three small rooms for the children have been completed. New windows have been installed and internal works are being carried out now.

 “The main thing for me now is that the active phase of the war does not break out again. I am afraid that my house will be destroyed again. After all, we hear the sounds of shots every night”, Liliia says. 

Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/Norwegian Refugee Council
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4. Die konfliktbetroffenen Menschen haben keinen vollen und gleichen Zugang zu ihren Rechten

Die konfliktbetroffenen Menschen in der Ostukraine haben keinen vollen Zugang zu ihren Rechten.

Fast 700.000 Pensionierte bekommen ihre Rente nicht, weil die restriktive Politik die Zahlung von Renten an konfliktbetroffene Personen mit der Verpflichtung zur Registrierung als Binnenvertriebener verbindet. Eine große Anzahl dieser Menschen läuft regelmäßig Gefahr, dass ihre Renten, die für die meisten älteren konfliktbetroffenen Menschen die einzige Einnahmequelle sind, willkürlich ausgesetzt werden.

In den Regionen Donetsk und Luhansk, die derzeit nicht unter der Kontrolle der ukrainischen Behörden stehen, haben fast 60 Prozent der Kinder keine von der ukrainischen Regierung ausgestellten Geburtsurkunden. Ebenso werden fast 80 Prozent der Todesfälle in diesen Regionen von den Behörden nicht beglaubigt.

Lesen Beschriftung Foto: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC

 

5. Langfristige Lösungen für Vertriebene bleiben unsicher

Schätzungsweise eine Million Menschen wurden durch den bewaffneten Konflikt dauerhaft vertrieben.

Angesichts des Ausmaßes der seit fünf Jahren andauernden Vertreibung muss den Binnenvertriebenen ein normales Leben ermöglicht werden, indem sie freiwillig nach Hause zurückkehren, freiwillig umgesiedelt oder in die Gastgebergemeinden integriert werden.

In einer solchen langwierigen Vertreibungssituation bleiben die Aussichten für die Integration der Vertriebenen in die lokalen Gemeinden ungewiss. Viele vertriebene Familien haben ihre Reserven aufgebraucht. Sie sind mit Diskriminierung konfrontiert und haben Probleme, Unterkünfte und sichere Arbeitsplätze zu finden und Zugang zu Dienstleistungen zu bekommen. Dass die Binnenvertriebenen kein Recht auf Teilnahme an Kommunalwahlen haben, bleibt ebenfalls ein Hindernis für die Integration in die Gastgebergemeinden.

A map of Ukraine, before the war, painted on a wall at Maiorsk crossing point in Donetsk region. 

The entry/exit control point “Maiorsk” is one of four vehicle and pedestrian crossing points in Donetsk region. It is located about 20 km from the non-government controlled Horlivka town. The grey zone between the Ukrainian checkpoint and self-proclaimed “DPR” is the widest among all of the EECPs. After the ECCP was opened in early 2015 there was no bus connection in this corridor, so people had to walk nearly 2-3 kilometres to take another bus. The situation changed in 2016, when it was agreed to launch bus shuttles. Over the period of its existence, the EECP has had many temporary closures due to escalation of the hostilities. Every day at least 7,000 people, mostly elderly, cross this entry-exit point to get their pension and social payments, visit their friends and relatives, buy essential goods. While crossing the contact line, concerned civilians are often exposed to serious security and safety risks such as minefields along the roads, periodic shelling and queuing at the checkpoints in harsh weather conditions for long hours.

Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC
Lesen Beschriftung Foto: Ingebjør Kårstad/NRC