Armed clashes in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine have forced thousands of families to flee their homes. Reportedly, hundreds of thousands are now displaced both in the country and in Russia. The living conditions of the resident population are worsening also. The International Committee of the Red Cross is stepping up activities for the affected population in deteriorating humanitarian and security environments.
“Our priority is to assist the displaced and resident people in Donbass, and to provide medical services to the wounded in all affected areas”, said Michel Masson, who heads the ICRC operations in Ukraine. “The current situation calls for a bigger effort to help the civilian population, and we are deploying additional teams in Marioupol and Starobilsk”.
The ICRC also acknowledges receipt of the offer from Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, about organizing aid convoys to the affected areas in Ukraine. “In the current situation, any humanitarian initiative is welcome to alleviate the suffering of civilians”, explained Masson. “We are exploring the possibility of distributing additional aid in the conflict zones; this implies the involvement, endorsement, and support of all concerned parties. Any ICRC action will be taken in strict adherence to our fundamental working principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence. Furthermore, the ICRC teams also need safe access to perform their work.”
Since April, the ICRC has been providing medical supplies for more than 25 health care institutions in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv and Dnepropetrosvk regions, and has visited persons detained in relation to the conflict. The Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS) has assisted more than 10,000 displaced people from the very beginning of the crisis in various parts of the country with food, hygiene kits, household essentials, clothing and other items. The organization aims at providing a greater and more effective response together with the URCS in the coming days.