Ukraine crisis: Striving to reach people in need

31 October 2014
Ukraine crisis: Striving to reach people in need
Distribution of food and household items in the Donetsk region. CC-BY-NC-ND/ICRC

Despite the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, acts of indiscriminate shelling and security incidents continue to put civilians at risk. The approaching winter makes the situation of both residents and displaced people even more difficult. The ICRC remains committed to helping people affected by conflict.

"The tragic death of our colleague in Donetsk on 2 October reflects what civilians have to deal with in the east of Ukraine," said Laurent Corbaz, the ICRC's head of operations for Europe and Central Asia. "The ICRC had to put its activities temporarily on hold in order to strike a balance between helping people in need and ensuring the safety of its staff members. Nevertheless, over the past few weeks we have gradually started to bring shelter materials, medical assistance and other aid to people in the regions of Kharkiv, Lugansk and Donetsk, and we continue to consider how best to do it."

In the areas where fighting has been heaviest the damage to people's homes is extensive. Winter is harsh in this part of the world, so those homes need to be made watertight and windproof. The ICRC plans to bring in glass, cement and roofing material.

Water systems were damaged and need repairing too. Several hospitals were also damaged by fighting, and improving people's access to health care is an ICRC priority. The organization plans to focus on meeting the needs of the disabled, people who cannot return to their homes, elderly people, children and others made vulnerable in one way or another by the conflict.

The ICRC currently has a delegation in Kiev, and with offices in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Lugansk, Severodonetsk, Mariupol and Odessa it is building up a presence in the conflict-affected areas of eastern Ukraine. It has over 140 staff working throughout the country.

Besides helping displaced people and residents to maintain basic living conditions, the ICRC continues to remind conflict parties of their responsibility to safeguard the lives of those not taking part in the fighting and to ensure the wounded and the sick receive the medical care they need.

Since mid-September, 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.

The ICRC provides medical assistance to the health institutions in eastern Ukraine. War surgery seminars are delivered in Lugansk and Donetsk in addition to material support of the hospitals and forensic institutions. CC-BY-NC-ND/ICRC/Teun Anthony Voeten/Sieverodonetsk

Key activities in October

The ICRC:

  • provided around 1,000 local residents and displaced people in the Donetsk region with food and other items;
  • distributed cash vouchers to 9,000 displaced families in Kharkiv and Mariupol for use in local shops;
  • provided welding equipment for local services in Lugansk repairing the damaged water and sewage system;
  • supplied 10,000 square metres of glass to glaze apartments of local residents in the Donetsk region;
  • delivered medical supplies to hospitals in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions for the treatment of several hundred patients;
  • held two workshops for 56 Ukrainian armed forces officers taking part in military operations in the eastern part of the country;
  • worked with the Russian Red Cross to help people now living in the Rostov region and the northern Caucasus who had fled the conflict in eastern Ukraine;
  • supported local Red Cross branches in Crimea to help some 30,000 people who have left their homes as a result of the conflict.

More information about ICRC activities in response to crisis in Ukraine:

Shelter and living conditions

  • The ICRC provided welding equipment for local services in Lugansk repairing damaged water and sewage system, and mobile water pressure pump equipment to help unblock the city's sewage system.
  • The municipalities of Sloviansk and Mykolaivka in the Donetsk region were given 10,000 square metres of glass for use in glazing almost 1,300 apartments of local residents. In addition, plastic sheeting for windows was positioned in Severodonetsk and Kharkiv for delivery to people living in more than 14,000 houses in the Lugansk region.
  • To be prepared for emergency water supply problems, the ICRC is positioning enough mobile water supply equipment (pumps, filtration equipment and storage bladders) to meet the needs of 10,000 people in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

Health care

  • Wound-dressing supplies for the treatment of up to 20 patients with serious injuries or 200 with minor injuries and medicines for the treatment of up to 25 operated patients were donated to the hospital of Kostiantynivka in the Donetsk region.
  • A one-day round table on weapon-wounded surgery held in Severodonetsk on 27 October brought together 25 surgeons from the Lugansk region involved in the treatment of patients with violence-related injuries.
  • Supplies delivered by the ICRC to hospitals in the Luhansk region have so far helped to treat several hundred patients. Supplies for use in the haemodialysis treatment of internally displaced people were donated to Odessa Regional Hospital.
  • The ICRC regularly provides forensic supplies for city mortuaries, forensic services and hospitals in the Luhansk and Donetsk areas for use in the dignified handling of bodies.

Assistance

  • Around 1,000 people in the Donetsk region, including local conflict-affected residents and displaced people, received food and other items from the ICRC.
  • The ICRC continues to issue vouchers through the Ukrainian Red Cross Society to assist displaced people in the Kharkiv and Mariupol areas. To date, more than 9,000 vouchers in the amount of 200 Ukrainian hryvnias each (a little over 15 US dollars) have been distributed. This programme will continue so that more displaced people can receive assistance.

Detainees

  • Since mid-September, 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.
  • The ICRC held workshops for Ukrainian armed forces officers in Kieiv and Vinytsia. The aim was to discuss the application of rules of international humanitarian law in hostilities and civil military cooperation in conflict zones.

Unexploded munitions

  • Following an assessment of the situation in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, the ICRC locally produced and distributed 50,000 leaflets and 1,000 posters to raise awareness among the population of the risks posed by the explosive remnants of war that are scattered throughout the region. An additional 100,000 leaflets will be printed to continue the campaign and extend it to Mariupol.

Restoring contact between family members

  • In Odessa, more than 300 displaced people with disabilities were given ICRC-provided telephone credits enabling them to stay in touch with their families.
  • The ICRC held a four-day workshop for 22 Ukrainian Red Cross tracing-service personnel to develop their skills in handling tracing requests.

Cooperation with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society

  • 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.
  • The ICRC continues to provide support for Ukrainian Red Cross public communications services, in particular by making available expertise.

The ICRC is closely working with the Ukrainian Red Cross to assist people affected by the conflict. Together we are working to restore family links, distribute humanitarian aid and promote the principles of international humanitarian law. CC-BY-NC-ND/ICRC/Teun Anthony Voeten/starobilsk

Cooperation with the Russian Red Cross (RRC)

  • The ICRC has provided 60,000 US dollars' worth of material support to the RRC to bolster the local branch's capacity to help displaced people in the Rostov region, where there are around 50,000 displaced people from eastern Ukraine.
  • The ICRC is working with the RRC to put family members separated by the conflict back in touch.
  • The ICRC is providing methodological support to the Rostov branch, organizing training for staff members and volunteers.
  • In the northern Caucasus, the ICRC, together with the RRC, is providing food and essential items to refugees from Ukraine. Overall, about 750 people have received humanitarian aid in Chechnya and Dagestan.

Crimea

  • The ICRC is supplying aid to local Red Cross branches for further distribution to those who left their homes as a result of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Overall, about 30,000 people have received humanitarian aid in the Crimea.
  • The ICRC also helps to build local Red Cross branches' capacity, for example by buying vehicles and funding aid distributions.

For further information, please contact:

Ashot Astabatsyan, ICRC Kiev, tel: +380675094206
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

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