ICRC scales up operations in eastern Ukraine

12 December 2014

As winter deepens, the ICRC is stepping up its activities in Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine to help people affected by the conflict. The organization had previously had to scale back its work there after the tragic death of one of its staff members in early October.

"Since early December our staff have been able to resume activities in Donetsk and Lugansk," said Laurent Corbaz, the ICRC's head of operations for Europe and Central Asia. "We continue to have constructive dialogue with the Ukrainian government and the local authorities in the eastern part of the country with a view to expanding our operations and ensuring the safety of our staff. The situation remains highly volatile, and we need to proceed with caution. However, winter has settled in and we are striving to meet the urgent needs of the population."

Because numerous apartment buildings and houses in Donetsk and Lugansk regions that were damaged by shelling became uninhabitable during cold weather, the ICRC provided glass and roofing materials to repair more than 7,000 apartments in Donetsk region. Over the past few weeks, the ICRC and the Ukrainian Red Cross have provided humanitarian aid for some 10,000 people caught up in the violence or living in dangerous proximity to conflict areas in Lugansk, Donetsk and Mariupol regions.

"One of our major priorities is to ensure that people have shelter, heat and food," said Mr Corbaz. "These are the basics that people absolutely must have to preserve their dignity in these very difficult times."

The ICRC also delivered medical supplies to nine hospitals in the region of Donetsk for the treatment of several hundred patients.

Some 450,000 people are estimated to be displaced within Ukraine, and approximately the same number of people are thought to have gone to neighbouring countries in search of safety. The ICRC has been providing aid and financial support for national Red Cross societies in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus to enable them to cover the needs of people who fled the conflict. Some 40,000 people have received food and basic household items in Crimea, for example.

"Another important priority for the ICRC is to obtain access to everyone being held in connection with the conflict, whether by the government or by separatist movements," said Mr Corbaz. The ICRC is currently visiting detainees in Zaporizhia, Odessa, Poltava, Kharkov and Kiev to monitor the treatment they receive and the conditions in which they are being held. At the same time, it continues to seek access to people detained in Donetsk and Lugansk.

For further information, please contact:
Ashot Astabatsyan, ICRC Kiev, tel: +380 67 509 42 06
Anastasia Isyuk, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 30 23 or +41 79 251 93 02
Victoria Zotikova, ICRC Moscow, tel: +7 495 626 5426 or +7 903 545 3534


Facts and Figures

Shelter and living conditions

  • The municipalities of Sloviansk and Mykolaivka in Donetsk region received 54,000 square metres of glass for use in glazing around 7,300 apartments of local residents damaged by shelling. Additionally, roofing materials were supplied to undertake much-needed repairs in preparation for winter.
  • To restore the water supply for residents of Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, the ICRC supplied pipes and repair fittings to its municipality.
  • To be prepared for any water emergency, the ICRC is pre-positioning water supply equipment, such as pumps, means of filtration and storage bladders so as to be able to cover the needs of almost 10,000 people in Donetsk and Lugansk regions.


  • Around 10,000 people in Donetsk and Lugansk regions, including both local residents affected by the conflict and displaced people, received food and other items from the ICRC.
  • Some 350 displaced people with disabilities accommodated in sanatoriums in Odessa received hygiene and other items.
  • The ICRC continues to issue vouchers through the Ukrainian Red Cross Society to assist displaced people in Kharkiv and Mariupol regions. To date, more than 10,300 vouchers in the amount of 200 Ukrainian hryvnas each (a little over 15 US dollars) have been distributed.

Health care

  • Wound-dressing materials, surgical items, blood-transfusion sets, insulin and other medicines, and other medical supplies for the treatment of people wounded in the hostilities and of the internally displaced were donated to nine hospitals in Donetsk region, including four hospitals in the city of Donetsk and four in Mariupol.
  • Around 50 doctors working in Donetsk region and involved in the treatment of patients with violence-related injuries participated in a two-day seminar on weapon-wounded surgery held in Mariupol on 4 and 5 November.
  • The ICRC provided forensic supplies for the Forensic Bureau of Donetsk city for use in the dignified handling of bodies. Meanwhile, two one-day training courses were organized for volunteers from the Union National Memory and the Ukrainian Red Cross in Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk respectively. The goal was to provide the participants with training in the identification of mortal remains.

Visiting detainees

  • The ICRC has visited people held in connection with the conflict in detention places under the control of the Ukrainian authorities in Zaporizhia, Odessa, Poltava, Kharkiv and Kiev to monitor the treatment they receive and the conditions in which they are being held.
  • The ICRC continues to seek access to detainees in Donetsk and Lugansk. It stands ready to serve as a neutral intermediary in the event of any simultaneous release of prisoners.

Dialogue with the parties to the conflict

  • The ICRC is maintaining contact with all parties to the conflict on the issue of the conduct of hostilities. In particular, it is urging the parties to refrain from attacking civilians or civilian objects.
  • On 24 and 25 November, the ICRC conducted a seminar for 17 police officers responsible for providing public security in Odessa region. Held in Odessa, the seminar was aimed at discussing the applicability of human rights and humanitarian principles in law enforcement operations.

Unexploded munitions

  • To support the State's efforts to clear explosive remnants of war that are scattered throughout the Donetsk and Lugansk region, the ICRC donated to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine metal detectors, protective aprons, visors and other equipment.

Cooperation with the Ukrainian Red Cross

  • The ICRC has provided the Ukrainian Red Cross with supplies and technical support to help it in its efforts to administer first aid and provide other humanitarian services in emergency situations.
  • To help the Ukrainian Red Cross store and distribute humanitarian aid, a tent warehouse was erected in Mariupol.

Cooperation with the Russian Red Cross

  • In Rostov region, which is hosting around 50,000 people displaced from eastern Ukraine, the ICRC has provided 60,000 US dollars' worth of supplies to the local Russian Red Cross to bolster the branch's capacity to help these people.
  • The ICRC is also providing methodological support to the Rostov branch, organizing training for staff members and volunteers.
  • The ICRC is preparing to deliver food parcels and hygiene items to the Russian Red Cross for further distribution in December to 10,000 Ukrainian displaced people accommodated in Krasnodarsky Krai and Adygea.
  • The ICRC is working with the Russian Red Cross to restore contact between family members separated by the conflict.
  • In the northern Caucasus, the ICRC, working together with the Russian Red Cross, is providing people displaced from Ukraine with food, essential items and financial support. Over 270 people received assistance from the ICRC in Chechnya and Dagestan between November and December.


  • The ICRC is providing local Red Cross branches with aid for further distribution to people who have fled violence in eastern Ukraine. In November, the ICRC delivered food parcels and hygiene items for 9,000 displaced Ukrainians. Overall, about 40,000 people have received humanitarian aid in Crimea.
  • The ICRC is also helping to expand the capabilities of local Red Cross branches, for example by providing them with vehicles and funding aid distributions.

Supporting the Red Cross of Belarus

  • The ICRC has given the Red Cross Society of Belarus over 490,000 US dollars to provide 3,000 displaced Ukrainians accommodated in the country with the winter clothes and food they need.
  • In addition, the ICRC is helping to strengthen the Society's emergency-response capacity by replenishing its emergency stock, paying rent and some other fees, training volunteers, etc.