The challenges and our response
Conflict between armed groups and government forces in eastern Ukraine is rarely in the headlines, but it has affected some 1.45 million people since fighting broke out in 2014. By autumn 2020, violence on both sides of the 450-kilometer “line of contact” (LoC) had claimed the lives of more than 3,000 Ukrainians and more than 300 civilians from other countries.
A further 1.45 million Ukrainians have been driven from their homes by fighting, seeking refuge elsewhere in the country and leaving Ukraine with the world’s ninth-largest population of internally displaced people.
The UN reports that some 3.5 million people in Ukraine continue to endure protracted violence and need humanitarian assistance.
Clashes along the LoC in eastern Ukraine have had other far-reaching humanitarian consequences for residents, including lost livelihoods and reduced access to basic needs. Residents in conflict-affected areas have experienced outages of electricity, water and heating, as well as restricted access to agricultural land—and the loss of potential income those restrictions bring. Insecurity, cold winters and deteriorating economic condition have further compounded people’s suffering.
International Medical Corps works both directly and in partnership with local organisations to increase access to child protection, mental health and psychosocial support services for those living in conflict-affected areas. We work with the Ukraine Ministry of Health to help contain the spread of infectious disease, including COVID-19, providing critical infection prevention and control (IPC) training for healthcare facility staff and promoting proper hygiene among community members.
Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS)
International Medical Corps is working both directly and indirectly with local partner organisations to provide MHPSS programming to those in need. We implement psychosocial support through mobile teams that reach villages along the LoC, and work with partners in government and non-government-controlled areas. We have established support groups run by psychologists, caseworkers and community-based facilitators for adults and the elderly, to reduce social isolation and increase contact within the community through psycho-education and recreational activities. We address psycho-educational topics, which are needs-based, through participatory activities aimed at improving wellbeing.
We provide a training-of-trainers course according to Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines for MHPSS focal points in Ukraine and continue to lead MHPSS coordination—which includes mapping of services—by helping to organise coordination meetings and strengthening referral pathways. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have adapted training, redirected resources and now offer counselling support by telephone or online to those unable or unwilling to attend in-person sessions.
International Medical Corps works with 19 primary healthcare clinics and one long-term care facility to provide training on infection prevent and control (IPC) measures for both medical and non-medical staff, as well as to supply hygiene materials and install additional handwashing stations. At the community level, we promote good hygiene practices and provide families with take-home hygiene kits.