ICRC, Kyiv 02.04.2020. – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had provided medical cargo to load on the Ukrainian plane that has arrived this morning to Kyiv from Geneva. This development is a direct result of the agreement reached between the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the ICRC President Peter Maurer, during their phone discussion that took place on 18 March 2020.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also took the opportunity to send further COVID-19 response material. In these times of crisis, close coordination and solidarity between organizations is essential.

The President of Ukraine and the ICRC President have agreed that the ICRC will provide Ukraine with medical equipment and pharmaceuticals relevant to support the health structures respond to the COVID-19 outbreak on both sides of the line of contact. To achieve this Ukraine has facilitated a plane to bring these goods. Today’s delivery of the cargo is particularly important for the Donbas, where people and communities are struggling with the threat of the COVID-19 while already suffering from 6 years of conflict.

In these times of pandemic, we understand that states are closing their borders and taking certain measures to protect the population. Essential humanitarian goods must be delivered to the people in need as well as to the health workers on the double front lines of COVID19 and conflict. We have to distribute medicines, masks, gloves, protective equipment for health and humanitarian staff but also to all who are on the front line of the fight against COVID-19. It is vital that these humanitarian goods arrive on time”, says Martin Schüepp, ICRC Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.

The ICRC Head of Delegation in Ukraine, Mrs. Florence Gillette and the WHO Representative / Head of Country Office in Ukraine, Dr Jarno Habicht, were at the airport for the arrival of the medical cargo in country.

With a few confirmed cases already, and dozens of patients waiting for the results of their test, the health system in eastern Ukraine is gearing up to face the COVID19 outbreak. The ICRC is supporting them in this endeavor. Beyond the essential masks and other items, health structures need a complex amount of equipment, consumables and medicines to treat the patients. This cargo is likely a drop in an ocean of identified needs but can make a difference in the coming weeks for dozens of health structures and their thousands of patients”, says the ICRC Head of Delegation Florence Gillette.

As shown by developments in more than 180 countries around the world, time is of essence in fighting this outbreak in unison. Being able to get these goods promptly thanks to the plane, contributes to a speedy response”, explains Mrs. Gillette.

A global experience of fighting the COVID-19 has shown so far that the heaviest burden of the COVID- 19 outbreak is on the health system. If the health system is already suffering from the lasting consequences of the war, the situation could potentially turn disastrous. Therefore, the ICRC continues to support not only people and communities of the conflict in Donbas, but also their key infrastructure and services.

Upon clearance at customs, the ICRC medical cargo will be distributed according to the needs of the health services and people living in the conflict area in the Donbas. It will be done in complementarity to what has been already provided so far from the ICRC offices in Severodonetsk, Mariupol, Donetsk, Luhansk and Slaviyansk. In addition, the ICRC will offer a COVID19 kit to a health structure in Kyiv city.

For all further information please contact Sanela Bajrambašić, ICRC Kyiv, tel: +380 67 509 42 06, or Oleksandr Vlasenko, ICRC Kyiv +380 95 262 80 23; +380 50 348 47 43. Please find in the attachment the latest Facts and Figures of the ICRC humanitarian response to Ukraine amid COVID-19 pandemic.