Victim Assistance

Last updated: 01 April 2018

The total number of mine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) survivors in Ukraine is not known, although there are reported to be hundreds of casualties from the conflict in eastern Ukraine.[1] In December 2017, Ukraine stated that since 2014 there were “1,796 landmine casualties in eastern Ukraine, including 238 civilians killed and another 491 injured.”[2] Prior to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, media reports indicated that tampering with ERW was a significant cause of casualties.[3] Many mine survivors are thought to be veterans of the Soviet Army, injured during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–1989).

Victim assistance commitments

Ukraine is responsible for landmine and ERW survivors. Ukraine has made a commitment to victim assistance through the Mine Ban Treaty.

Ukraine ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 4 February 2010.

Ukrainehas reported that victim assistance is among key government priorities.[4] However, as of December 2017, Ukraine had not specificallyindicatedthat it chooses to be recognizes as being among the Mine Ban Treaty States Parties that have significant number—hundreds or thousands—of landmine survivors for which they must provide care.

Many persons with injuries, impairment, or disabilities did not have access to any form of assistance from government or NGOs due to reduced mobility, increased vulnerability, and emergency humanitarian needs related to the security situation.

Assessing the needs

The UN mine action sub-cluster was developing a new mine victim questionnaire that was being prepared by UNICEF representation in Ukraine together with real actors in this field such as Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Policy, State Emergency Service, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as NGOs and organizations such as the ICRC, HALO Trust, Danish Demining Group (DDG), and the Swiss Foundationfor Mine Action (FSD).[5]


Disability issues, including physical rehabilitation, the provision of prosthetics and assistive devices to survivors, as well as employment and other economic inclusion activitiesare the responsibility ofthe Ministry of Social Policy.[6] The Ministry of Health was responsible for emergency and long-term medical care.[7]

Ukraine did not make statements on victim assistance at the Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings in Geneva in June 2017, nor at the Mine Ban Treaty Sixteenth Meeting of States Parties in Vienna in December 2017. Ukraine did refer to victim assistance in its general statements at Mine Ban Treaty meetings in 2014–2017. Ukraine did not include form J or information on Victim Assistance in its Article 7 report for calendar year 2016.

Inclusion and participation of survivors

Survivors were actively involved as advisers to the heads of central executive authorities, as well as members of public councils at state agencies that are responsible for the rehabilitation and assistance to victims of war, including landmine survivors.[8]


The ICRC supported 77 hospitals structures and also clinics on both sides of the front line and donated supplies to treat injuries. In non-government-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, ICRC supplies supported blood banks. Fifteen health facilities resumed or continued operations following ICRC repair works.[9]

A specific NATO trust fund for prosthetics for soldiers was agreed between Ukraine and NATO in September 2015.[10] The trust fund aims to provide military assistance in physical rehabilitation (including prosthetics) for injured soldiers, as well as for the establishment of an appropriate physical rehabilitation system in Ukraine.[11] This significantly expands Ukraine’s capacity to assist landmine survivors and other persons with disabilities due to weapons.[12] The project began implementation in early 2016 by supporting service personnel and delivery of rehabilitation equipment. The first occupational therapy kitchen in Ukraine and the first wheelchair workshop in a governmental institution were delivered in 2016.[13]

Humanity and Inclusion (HI, formerly Handicap International) teams provide support to vulnerable people, including persons with disabilities, facing difficulty in accessing care as a result of the conflict. HI also built local and national level capacities of health services.[14]

In the non-government-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions the tense security situation hampered access to rehabilitation services. Access to rehabilitation services was difficultfor persons with disabilitiesin rural areas, and particularly those living near the front lines, primarily due to the lack of public transportation. Physical rehabilitation services are accessible to people in the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk. At the end of 2016, in Donetsk the ICRC was the only humanitarian organization still active; and in Lugansk the Czech NGO People in Need was the only active organization remaining other than the ICRC. The orthopedic center in the city of Donetsk produced prostheses and orthoses using ICRC-provided materials. Although the ICRC restored a dormitory at the Donetsk center, due to there being no nurses to manage the accommodations, the dormitory was reportedly only being used only as a gait-training area. When it became clear that the ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Programme (PRP) would not be given access to the physical rehabilitation center in Lugansk, in early 2016 it moved to Donetsk where prospects for delivering assistance appeared to be preferable. However, access to the Donetsk center remained limited to just the office area through the year.[15]

ITF: Enhancing Human Security (ITF) supported psychosocial rehabilitation for 240 severely traumatized children from eastern Ukraine (Donbass region) by mid-2017, with plans to engage an additional 160 children in need in the program by the end of 2018. ITF has also organized physical rehabilitation for one conflict casualty.[16]

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supported doctors and medical facilities close to the fighting, as well as basic healthcare and medicines mainly through mobile clinics. MSF also offered psychological support to populations living along the frontline. By September 2017 MSF was running four mobile clinics consisting of a doctor, a nurse, and a psychologist. The mobile clinics cover at least 22 separate locations, and also visit additional three locations in eastern Ukraine to psychological support only.[17]

Laws and policies

Legislation prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to healthcare, and the provision of other state services. These provisions were not effectively applied. Legislation requires that public buildings be made accessible to persons with disabilities. Disability rights advocacy groups maintained that, despite the legal requirements, most public buildings remained inaccessible to persons with disabilities, restricting the ability of such persons to participate in society. Access to employment, education, healthcare, transportation, and financial services remained difficult.[18] The ICRC reported that on the whole, buildings and facilities are comparatively inaccessible to persons with disabilities because of the lack wheelchair ramps, elevators, and similar aids.[19]

By law employers must set aside a quota of 4% of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. It was reported that many people employed to fill the quota requirement received minimal salaries but did not actually work at the companies of employment. Legislation also requires employers to take into account the individual needs of employees with disabilities. Generally these laws were not enforced. On 19 November 2014, the Law on the Protection of Rights and Freedoms of Internally Displaced People came into effect. The law provides 880 hryvnia (US$55) per month for persons with disabilities.[20] In September 2016, the parliament adopted legislation to harmonize legislation with international standards with respect to the rights of persons with disabilities.[21]

[1] Oksana Grytsenko, “Minefields Kill 261, Wound 479,” Kyiv Post, 21 January 2016.

[2] Statement of Ukraine, Mine Ban Treaty Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties, Vienna, 18 December 2017.

[3] The total includes 2009–2010 casualty data and Monitor analysis of State Emergency Service, “Daily Reports,” from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008.

[4] Statement of Ukraine, Mine Ban Treaty Fifteenth Meeting of States Parties, Santiago, 28 November 2016.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Statement of Ukraine, Mine Ban Treaty Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 28 November 2015.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, May 2017, p. 415.

[11]Ukraine and NATO launch two trust funds,” Vector News, 22 September 2015.

[12] Statement of Ukraine, Mine Ban Treaty Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 28 November 2015.

[14] HI, “Ukraine: Actions,” undated.

[15] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, November 2017, p. 83.

[18] United States Department of State, “2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ukraine,” Washington, DC, 3 March 2017.

[19] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, November 2017, p. 83; and ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, May 2017, p. 415.

[20] US Department of State, “2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ukraine,” Washington, DC, 25 June 2015; and US Department of State, “2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ukraine,” Washington, DC, 3 March 2017.

[21] US Department of State, “2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ukraine,” Washington, DC, 3 March 2017.