The global crisis caused by the coronavirus has complicated life for people who live in the conflict area of Eastern Ukraine. Both Kiev and the self-proclaimed entities of Donetsk and Luhansk introduced measures to control the coronavirus. In this Ukraine Alert the Finnish Peace Committee publishes data on the increase in civilian casualties and fatalities in March. The coronavirus crisis has worsened the humanitarian situation but has had little effect on the military situation.
On March 15th it was announced that effective the following day Ukraine would lock down all exit/entry points along the contact line in Donbass. A similar measure was introduced by the self-proclaimed entities starting from March 21st. These measures were initially announced to last until April 3rd but later Ukraine extended the quarantine until April 24th.
Currently, Ukraine’s government policy requires pensioners from the self-proclaimed entities to register as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in government-controlled areas, maintain residential addresses there, and regularly travel to those areas in order to receive their pensions. The system has been broadly criticised as discriminatory against internally displaced people. The online media outlet of the city of Horlivka writes that the 60-day verification period is to be prolonged for the entire duration of the quarantine.
THE CORONAVIRUS AS IMPEDIMENT TO THE MONITORING PROCESS
The lockdown of passage is causing numerous problems for both civilians who have to travel between non-government-controlled and government-controlled areas and international monitoring missions operating in the area.
The OSCE SMM details in their report 70/2020 the hardship of taking the body of a dead person for burial from a government-controlled to a non-government-controlled area, which the patrol observed at the Stanitsa Luhanskaya crossing.
UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are also reported to be facing difficulties in accessing the non-government-controlled areas, due to the coronavirus restrictions.
In this regard, the EU External Action stated on March 25th its demand for the unimpeded access to those in need in the whole Donbass region.
ANTONIO GUTERRES AND THE CALL FOR A GLOBAL CEASEFIRE
On March 24 the UN Secretary-General called for an immediate global ceasefire because of the coronavirus crisis: “It is time to end the sickness of war. – – The most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price.”