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Ukraine crisis: Striving to reach people in need

Red Cross remains committed to helping people affected by conflict in Ukraine

Monday November 3, 2014

The ICRC is working closely with the Ukrainian Red Cross to assist people affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Photo: ICRC

Red Cross remains committed to helping people affected by conflict in Ukraine

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 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 Kharkiv, Lugansk and Donetsk regions, 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 promoteĀ international humanitarian law - reminding 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.

More information about the laws of war here