The Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UHF) was established in February 2019 to help meet the most critical needs of the conflict-affected population in eastern Ukraine, which might otherwise remain unaddressed. The UHF is a tool available to donors to pool their contributions into single, unearmarked funds to enable humanitarian partners to deliver timely, coordinated and principled assistance within the framework of the Humanitarian Response Plans. The UHF also strengthens coordination and the role of the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) to ensure a principled response, improving access to people in need, particularly along the “contact line” – the 427-kilometre-long front line dividing the region into Government-controlled areas (GCA) and those outside it (non-Government-controlled areas (NGCA)).
Since its establishment, the UHF has attracted over US$18 million from 13 different donors, including multilateral, bilateral and individual donors. In 2020, UHF received $9.5 million and released $7.5 million through four allocations: (i) a reserve allocation of $1.9 million to tackle the effects of COVID-19 in GCA (April 2020), (ii) a standard allocation of $1.9 million to respond to the effects of COVID-19 in NGCA (May 2020), (iii) a reserve allocation of $1 million to increase operational footprint in NGCA (June 2020), and (iv) a standard allocation of $6 million to address priority humanitarian needs in NGCA and increasing sustainability of response in GCA (September 2020). In 2020, a total of 22 projects were approved for funding to help almost 360,000 people, of whom 46 per cent reside in GCA and 54 per cent in NGCA.
Response to COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis has had a devastating effect on the conflict-affected region in Ukraine, putting additional pressure on the already struggling population. The pandemic and its ramifications have sent the weakened healthcare system, the floundering provision of social services and the declining regional economy to a breaking point. During the first months of the pandemic, all crossing points along the “contact line” were almost completely sealed off in an attempt to contain the virus and are likely to remain only partially operational at least until summer 2021. Hundreds of thousands of people, particularly NGCA residents, rely on the ability to cross the “contact line” to access cash, administrative services, social entitlements and benefits or reconnect with family members, which has not been possible since late March 2020. Severe restrictions on movement have and will further increase the affected population’s vulnerabilities and add to their mental and psychological stress. Overall, the pandemic has made hundreds of thousands of conflict-weary people more vulnerable and more dependent on humanitarian aid.
Humanitarian actors in Ukraine have quickly risen to the new challenge. A few weeks after the beginning of the pandemic in Ukraine, the humanitarian community revised the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) to include the efforts aimed at tackling the effects of COVID-19 on the conflict-affected population in eastern Ukraine. The response to COVID-19 in conflict-affected areas is also an integral part of the 2021 HRP for Ukraine.
The UHF has actively supported the COVID-19 response through two COVID-19-specific allocations: $3.8 million was allocated to 14 projects, which reached over 57,000 people with COVID-19-related assistance, including the elderly and other most vulnerable people residing in conflict-torn areas.
Management of the Fund
Under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) and the overall management of OCHA, the UHF aims to support the timely allocation and disbursement of donor resources to the most critical humanitarian needs as defined by Ukraine’s annual HRPs supported by inter-agency/cluster coordination mechanisms in the country.
The UHF is supported by OCHA’s Humanitarian Financing Unit (HFU) at the country level.
Feedback and Complaints
With the main purpose to ensure transparency, accountability and effectiveness of the UHF management, a feedback and complaints mechanism has been established within the UHF performance framework. One part of this dual system directly addresses any concern or complaint made by UHF partners, while the other part focuses on any concern or complaint raised by the beneficiaries of UHF-funded projects or other stakeholders involved in the implementation process.
Complaints from stakeholders concerning UHF allocation processes should be sent to feedback-UHF@un.org. Complaints will be compiled, reviewed by the OCHA Head of Office, and raised to the HC, who will then make a decision on necessary action(s).
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