Formerly Separatist-Held Kramatorsk, Ukraine Continues its Recovery

Olympic Fan Zone Organized by Our Kramatorsk

What role has Civil Society played in the healing process?

It has been over two years since the Ukrainian army freed Kramatorsk from separatist control in July 2014. Yet the city has still not fully recovered from the nearly four months of frontline fighting while under occupation. Tellingly, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) make up approximately one-third of the city’s population.

Luckily a number of Ukrainian and regional NGOs have sprung up locally to support IDPs and others impacted by the conflict. NGOs such as “Человек в Беде” (People in Need), a Czech organization, distribute aid, provide legal assistance, therapy, and advise IDPs on how to create business plans.

It is difficult not to notice People in Need, you can even see where they operate by the long lines of people who gather where they distribute aid.
— Local civil servant, 49 years old

NGOs such as “Our Kramatorsk,” meanwhile, have worked to instill civic pride in addition to their humanitarian work. The organization also acts as a forum for discussing city problems, provides legal consultations, conducts surveys, and coordinates the work of activists, experts, and local officials.

You see the billboard ads of “Our Kramatorsk” everywhere. They recently organized the Fan Zone for the Summer Olympic games.
— Worker, 28 years old

The rise of strong civic activism in Ukraine is one of the few silver linings of the conflict, which has devastated Ukraine. Kramatorsk, despite being only 30km away from the front lines of the separatists, is no exception to this trend.