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Ukraine: Situation deteriorating in east

08-08-2014 News Release 14/140

Geneva / Kiev / Moscow (ICRC) – Armed clashes in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine have forced thousands of families to flee their homes. Hundreds of thousands of people are reportedly now displaced both inside the country and in Russia. The living conditions of the resident population are also worsening. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is stepping up its work to help the affected population, who are now facing a deteriorating environment from both a humanitarian and security viewpoint.

Residents of the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk look out of a bus window as they prepare to depart to escape the fighting. ©Reuters/M. Zmeyev

"Our priority is to assist the displaced people and residents in Donbass, and to provide medical services in all affected areas for the wounded," said Michel Masson, who heads ICRC operations in Ukraine. "The current situation calls for a bigger effort to help the civilian population, and we are sending additional staff to Mariupol and Starobilsk."

The ICRC acknowledges receipt of the offer from Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov regarding the organization of aid convoys to the affected areas in Ukraine. "Any humanitarian initiative to alleviate the suffering of civilians is welcome," Masson explained. "We are exploring the possibility of distributing additional aid in the conflict zones. This requires the involvement, endorsement, and support of all the parties concerned. Any ICRC action will be taken in strict accordance with our fundamental working principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence. In addition, ICRC staff obviously need safe access in order to carry out their work."  

Since April, the ICRC has been providing medical supplies for more than 25 health-care facilities in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv and Dnepropetrovsk regions, and has visited people detained in connection with the conflict. From the very beginning of the crisis, the Ukrainian Red Cross Society has assisted over 10,000 displaced people in various parts of the country with food, hygiene kits, household essentials, clothing and other items. The ICRC is striving together with the Ukrainian Red Cross to achieve a broader and more effective response in the coming days.

For further information, please contact:
Andre Loersch, ICRC Kiev, tel: +380 671 182 481
Victoria Zotikova, ICRC Moscow, tel: +7 495 626 5426  or  +7 903 545 3534
Sitara Jabeen, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 78 or +41 79 536 92 31