People in Need assisted with evacuation of 330 people from bombed cities in eastern UkrainePublished: Feb 5, 2015 Reading time: 6 minutes
Slavyansk, Donetsk (February 5, 2015) – Because of the fierce fighting between separatists and the Ukrainian army in Eastern Ukraine, hundreds flee from the bombed cities every day with only their necessities. Artillery shells fall on residential districts and hospitals, causing hundreds of deaths. People in Need evacuated 330 people from Avdiivka, and also continues to assist refugees who have escaped from Debaltseve and other towns at the front line. Our teams aid refugees in the separatist territory, distributing mostly food, blankets and building materials for damaged houses.
"People in Needs appeals to both warring sides to enable access of humanitarian aid and evacuation of people from fighting areas. At the same time, we appeal to stop the bombing of residential areas and to obey the rules of international humanitarian law,” says the director of PIN humanitarian department Marek Stys.
People are often trapped in zones of fierce fighting without any opportunity to escape. "We have assisted with evacuation of 330 people from Avdiivka, not far from the Donetsk airport. We paid for gas and another costs associated with bus transport. People came on their own and priority was given to the elderly and to families with children. Most of them found temporary accommodation in centers for refugees, which we helped to repair and equip,” informs PIN humanitarian aid coordinator in Slavjansk Katerina Kodysova.
According to UNHCR, more than 2000 people have escaped in the last few days from Debaltseve alone. "Hundreds of people come every day from these areas. Very often they have only a plastic bag with several personal items. They are in acute need of food, hygiene supplies, medicine, warm clothes or blankets," explain Katerina Kodysova.
The phone has been deaf for three days
A refugee from Debaltseve, Lyudmila Shapolavova, explains, "We have stayed in Slavjansk from September, because it is not possible to live in Debaltseve. There, the fighting only intensifies. The town came under a heavy shelling six days ago and the electricity does not work since then. People do not have water or functional heating,” says Lyudmila. "Moreover , people miss the phone connection. I used to call my mother a lot. But now the phone has been already dead for three days,”she affirms.
Conflict in Ukraine in numbers
5358 people have died and 12 235 have been injured
224 people died only in the last three weeks and 545 were injured
5.2 million people live in areas afflicted by fighting
921 640 people are displaced, including 136 216 children
600 000 people have escaped into neighboring countries, more than 400 000 of them into Russia
People in Need also helps those who are still at Debaltseve. „We delivered 400 food rations last week and another 300 this week. These rations include oil, sugar, flour, pasta, rice, canned goods, sardines or tea,“ explains Katerina Kodysova. „Due to security precautions, we deliver the aid to the suburbs and then it is distributed by volunteers from local churches,“ says Kodysova.
On the other side of the frontline, the situation is similarly critical. New waves of fighting have hit cities that were peaceful until last summer, sending hundreds fleeing to the separatist territories on a daily basis. Fortunately, we have 15 teams with one or two members in these territories, who work in all afflicted districts and large cities. “Six teams work right at the frontlines. They monitor the acute needs of population and then distribute food, blankets, sleeping bags, warm clothing or building materials to the most afflicted people,” says Vladislav Vik, PIN coordinator in Ukraine.
“We wish that the fighting was over.”
For the people near the frontlines, there is also mental suffering. They hide from bombs and live in basements for months. “The main wish is for the end of fighting. The children are starting to consider artillery shelling as something normal,” says Vik. Others are trying to work in spite of the danger. There is a poultry farm with 20 employees located just 800 meters from the frontline. Some of them reside in the bomb shelter, which was used to grow mushrooms before the war.
“It is better to have something to eat and fear the grenades than just sit and starve,” explains Sergey, who works at the farm as technician. People in Need has delivered food rations there. During the last visit, we brought blankets, and next time we will deliver winter jackets and sleeping bags.“People often do not want to leave, because they are afraid to lose their jobs and property. They have become used to shelling and hope that the basements will protect them,” says Vik.
People no longer trust Donbas
People in Need also cares for those who fled further inside the separatist territory. There we distribute food, blankets and clothing provided by UNHCR, WFP and ECHO. People fleeing to government-controlled areas usually end up in one of the 21 IDP centres, which we have supported in recent months. Some are now entirely occupied. “Now, people stay just for few days and then move further west, to Kharkiv or Kiev. They no longer believe that the Donbas region is secure and the local economy can recover,” says Katerina Kodysova.
People in Need will increase the amount of food and material aid. People urgently need stoves and firewood- window foil is also in great demand. Places without electricity will be supplied with candles and torches. “Together with Doctors without Borders, we will support hospitals in Starobelsk and Debaltseve. We will supply medications and bandages,” says Kodysova.
People in Need in Ukraine
People in Need has helped to aid eastern Ukraine since August, organizing assistance from the Slavyansk office. We provide those most in need with immediate humanitarian aid, such as food or medicine. We also help repair damaged houses, equip refugee centers, and offer food vouchers to those who need them. Since the beginning of November, People in Need has been systematically working in Donetsk and areas controlled by separatists. PIN has opened an office in the city and provides the most vulnerable people with food, medicine, toiletries, and baby diapers. On a monthly basis, we provide food to over 7,000 people. Other aid includes the support of several retirement homes, hospices, and shelters for the homeless.
Our help in numbers:
21 repaired IDP centers
750 repaired houses
55 000 distributed food rations
26 436 distributed food coupons
4530 people supplied by financial donations
1250 distributed hygiene kits
10 000 people can use new water pump
1 200 people provided with medications
150 people supported by financial grants
16 000 people in Vuhledar provided with water for 2 months
4 new generators to power water pumps in Debaltsevo
3 hospitals provided with medications
For more information, please contact:
Katerina Kodysova, PIN humanitarian coordinator in Slavyansk, +380 66 435 8241, Katerina.Kodysova@clovekvtisni.cz
Vladislav Vik, PIN desk officer for Ukraine, +420 778 531 399, Vladislav.Vik@clovekvtisni.cz