The ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine poses increasing challenges to Ukrainian society. In addition to the direct events of the war – such as the deplorable number of dead and wounded, torture and displacement – the long-term consequences of the conflict are becoming increasingly visible.
A significant proportion of the Ukrainian population is being traumatised through direct or indirect contact with the events of the war. There is increasing evidence of domestic violence, extending across all social levels. Social tensions are arising between internally displaced persons and the local host communities; war returnees need to be reintegrated into society. The fact that much of the Ukrainian population is being affected directly or indirectly by the conflict is giving rise to new social tensions. Internally displaced persons as well as those involved in the war and their family members are increasingly experiencing discrimination. These consequences of the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine pose the risk of manifold potential for new conflict.
Civil society in Ukraine is currently the central social driving force endeavouring to effectively counter these many problems and conflicts. NGOs, initiatives and activists are providing the support which is so desperately needed for those affected by war and violence. They are the ones distributing humanitarian aid, evacuating people from the war zone, helping internally displaced persons in the search for housing and jobs and initiating dialogue to resolve the social conflicts mentioned above. The trauma therapy services offered free of charge to the population are attributable to the voluntary commitment of psychologists, although not all of them possess the urgently needed training. As a result of the continuing strain on civil society over the last two years, there is also evidence of an increasing risk of burn-out which, among other factors, has unfortunately led to a significant reduction in the level of voluntary commitment.
These problems, which are a highly topical issue in Ukraine, can also be found in other current or former conflict areas in the region. Civil society organisations in Georgia, Armenia and the North Caucasus are familiar with the problems and social tensions resulting from the lack of integration of internally displaced persons and refugees or with war-related domestic violence. These countries have developed their own effective approaches, as Ukraine has since done, and therefore have specific experience and expertise in post-conflict rehabilitation.
Based on the findings mentioned before, the project’s aim is to promote the peace process and dialogue in Ukraine by supporting civil society in its management of the social conflicts resulting from the war in Eastern Ukraine, with the goal to avoid further conflict and contribute towards a long-term peace process.
In order to strengthen the ability of Ukrainian civil society with regard to conflict management, its actors are receiving know-how and expertise from other Eastern European (post)war zones. At the same time, the networking between civil societies from Armenia, Georgia, the Russian North Caucasus and Ukraine is being extended and reinforced. The interchange of technical expertise and transfer of experience in conflict management, dialogue and peace-building enable these societies to find long-term, common solutions contributing towards a stabilisation of the region over the long-term.
The project’s work is based on the following basic principles:
The project is being implemented by the German-Russian Exchange (DRA) in cooperation with its main partner “Kraina vilnych ludey” and six other partners from Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Germany from August 2016 to October 2018. It is a continuation of the peace building and conflict transformation work, the DRA has begun in 2014 in Ukraine and which is constantly being developed in cooperation with its multinational network of NGO partners.
The DRA is conducting the project in cooperation with its main Ukrainian partner, the NGO “Land of free people” based in Kramatorsk and Lviv.
Furthermore the following partner organisations are involved in the project: “Our Future” in Saporozhiye, Caritas Armenia, the “Sukhumi” Foundation in Georgia, the East Europe Foundation in Kyiv, and ChildFund Germany.
In addition we are working on specific topics with the “Zentrum Überleben” (Centre “Survive”), “Treatment Centre for Victims of Torture”, “Perspektivwechsel Plus” from Berlin and the Berlin Institute for Conflict Transformation and Dialogue “re-flow”.
The project is being funded by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.