02-09-2014 | Europe & Central Asia

Civilians in Lugansk in dire need

ICRC staff Marina Fakhouri and Bruno Pommier were in Lugansk in east Ukraine on 21-26 August. They share their first-hand experiences and observations during their time there.

The situation in Lugansk remains precarious as intermittent shelling continues, putting civilians at risk and damaging essential infrastructure. Only four of the city's nine hospitals are operational. The supply of food, medicine and fuel is erratic. Electrical power and telephone networks have been cut off.

There is no indication that the situation has improved since then. The top concern remains the issue of security. "The fact that shelling was random and it would come several times a day was generating a real permanent feeling of fear amongst the population,” says Bruno Pommier.

The random nature of shelling has resulted in many hospitals being hit as well. The strain on the medical infrastructure and staff was evident to Marina Fakhouri, "It is important to note that not even hospitals are safe, that there has been shelling that has hit hospitals and of course there are not that many doctors able to work there because many of them have left. Transport to and from the hospitals is very difficult. So those who have stayed are extremely brave and are doing an incredible job."

In addition, the lack of electricity is having a huge impact on the life of the people including no running water and poor sewage system. As per discussions Bruno Pommier had with some people working on the sewage issue, "we are close to a very alarming situation that could cause an epidemiological problem in the city of Lugansk."

The ICRC's priorities are to make sure that hospitals have a reliable supply of water and ample medical supplies, to find a way to exchange news between family members, and to bring about greater respect for the rules of IHL governing the conduct of hostilities.

"The situation of the civilian population in Lugansk is absolutely terrible. Every day you have wounded people, every day you have dead people and this cannot definitely last,” says Bruno Pommier.


Shotlist

Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Filming date: 1 September 2014
Length: 2’44
Format: H264 Mov HD & SD
Production: Neha Thakkar/Didier Revol
Camera: Fabien Cachin
Sound: English
ICRC ref: AV217N

Copyright: ICRC access all


00:00 SOUNDBITE (in English): Marina Fakhouri, ICRC delegate
"Our main concern is the security of the remaining population there, with random shelling whether it was for the population who have remained or whether it was for us. The randomness means that you never know when it is going to hit next and therefore it makes movement very difficult."

00:17 SOUNDBITE (in English): Bruno Pommier, ICRC delegate
"The city is quite cut off from the rest of the country. There is no water. There is no electricity. There is no network for the telephones. So as a consequence, the people that stayed in Lugansk stayed in their home also due to random shelling on the city and the outskirts of the city. People really don't dare to be outside on the streets."

00:45 SOUNDBITE (in English): Bruno Pommier, ICRC delegate
"The fact that it was random and it would come several times a day was generating a real permanent feeling of fear amongst the population. And this is why most of the people stay home the whole day and if they can find shelter in the basement, that's what they do and that's also what we did ourselves."

01:05 SOUNDBITE (in English): Marina Fakhouri, ICRC delegate
"It is important to note that not even hospitals are safe, that there has been shelling that has hit hospitals and of course there are not that many doctors able to work there because many of them have left. Transport to and from the hospitals is very difficult. So those who have stayed are extremely brave and are doing an incredible job."

01:28 SOUNDBITE (in English): Bruno Pommier, ICRC delegate
"The absence of electricity has a big humanitarian impact and a huge impact on the life of the people. One of them is that there is no running water. But another one is linked to the functioning of the sewage system. And here it seems, by talking with some people working on the sewage system, that we are close to a very alarming situation that could cause an epidemiological problem in the city of Lugansk."

02:00 SOUNDBITE (in English): Marina Fakhouri, ICRC delegate
"The ICRC has called on all parties to respect the main rules of conduct of hostilities, and in particular to respect the medical mission, as we ascertained that there have been hospitals that have been hit. Ambulances have been hit, or not able to effect their duties properly, and this is of major concern to the ICRC as there are civilian casualties and there are civilian persons in need of urgent trauma care."

02:29 SOUNDBITE (in English): Bruno Pommier, ICRC delegate
"The situation of the civilian population in Lugansk is absolutely terrible. Every day you have wounded people, every day you have dead people and this cannot definitely last."

02:44 END

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