New York: An eight truck convoy of life-saving humanitarian aid provided by the UN and humanitarian partners reached Sievierodonetsk on Tuesday, in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region, where sustained and intense fighting is taking an enormous toll on civilians.
Infrastructure damage from shelling has left thousands of people in residential buildings across eastern Ukraine without electricity or gas for cooking and heating homes, or adequate access to clean water, which has been cut since the end of March.
And facing repeated Russian shelling, the residents of Sievierodonetsk are not only severely restricted in their ability to access basic necessities, but also barred from evacuating safely.
“We’re in Sievierodonetsk today, where fighting is ongoing and civilians in the city are in urgent need of assistance,” said UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator Markus Werne.
Stepping in, helping out
The inter-agency convoy from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN refugee agency (UNHCR), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) – and INGO People in Need – brought life-saving food rations, flour, plastic sheeting and blankets for some 17,000 people, as well as four electricity generators for use by the local hospital.
The humanitarian convoy was facilitated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), through the notification system agreed upon with both parties to the conflict.
“The UN and humanitarian partners delivered ready-to-eat meals, canned goods, flour and essential relief items such as blankets, mattresses, solar-powered lamps, and other household items,” Mr. Werne said.
The relief will be provided to those most in need through the Ukrainian Red Cross – and deliveries will also be made to vulnerable people in their homes or bunkers around Sievierodonetsk.
The Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator also stressed that, “we will continue to deliver here and to cities across Ukraine but what we require is protection of civilians and continued access.”
More than 12 million in need
Meanwhile, UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq told journalists at a regular media briefing that although the fourth inter-agency convoy has brought much-needed relief to the people of Sievierodonetsk, it is just a small proportion of what is really needed now in Ukraine.
“Over 12 million people need humanitarian aid, while insecurity and lack of access are severely impacting humanitarian organizations’ ability to operate,” he flagged.
And hostilities also continue to push thousands of people from their homes every day.
The UN spokesperson cited IOM’s second Internal Displacement Report in saying that over 7.1 million people have been internally displaced since Russia invaded Ukraine.
“This represents a 10 per cent increase since the last survey published on 16 March and adds to the over 4.2 million people who crossed borders to seek safety in other countries,” he observed.
“In total, 11.3 million people have been uprooted since the beginning of the war in Ukraine”.
$610 million so far
In terms of funding, humanitarian organizations have now received nearly $610 million for their activities, which is around 54 percent of the $1.1 billion requested in the Humanitarian Flash Appeal.
“With the number of people in need increasing daily, the UN and our partners are revising the appeal to ensure that life-saving operations can continue to meet the growing needs,” added Mr. Haq.