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13-04-2015 | Europe & Central Asia

Hundreds of thousands in need following Ukraine ceasefire


After months of heavy fighting, the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine has revealed the massive humanitarian needs of people living in frontline areas and those who have fled to neighboring countries.

With no work and no income, entire families are surviving on the aid distributed by the ICRC and the Red Cross Movement. Hospitals, old people’s homes, orphanages and prisons are struggling to feed those in their care and are relying on food and hygiene kits provided by the humanitarian organization. 

Elena Drach, director of an old people’s home on the outskirts of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine asked for help for the 127 patients, most of them bed ridden.

“Before the war, pensions and payments from relatives were enough to pay for food and accommodation but now it is much more difficult.” 

Some of the residents lost relatives in the war, others like Tatiana Yakubovskaya were made homeless. 

“A shell hit my house, shattering the doors, windows and walls.”

The ICRC is also distributing aid to other cities affected by the fighting in eastern Ukraine as well as to tens of thousands of people who fled the region for southern Russia. 

Many people with family connections in Russia fled to villages and towns such as Rostov, and Krasnodar as well as to the disputed region of Crimea – where the most vulnerable are also receiving food and hygiene kits. 

“We don’t want to go back”, says one woman from the Ukrainian city Gorlovka, “because the war was horrible and I don’t want my children to live hiding in and out of basements.”

Another challenge to returning to normal life in eastern Ukraine is the risk of landmines and unexploded ordinance. 

 “My grandsons were killed when they stepped on a mine in a field so now we don’t even know where we can walk,” says Nina Chaika from Groznoe.

The ICRC is running mine awareness training for volunteers from the Ukrainian Red Cross and the state emergency services, for whom it is providing protective demining equipment. It is also promoting mine awareness campaigns, distributing tens of thousands of leaflets and posters in conflict affected areas.

As the planting season begins, the state emergency services are warning people not to go back to fields which have not been cleared. Instead people are receiving food and firewood for fuel.

As the ICRC gets more access, the extent of the devastation is becoming clearer 

“In every village we reach we see additional needs that had not been evaluated before and we realize as well that it will take months not weeks for those who have been displaced to return to their homes,” says Laurent Corbaz, ICRC head of operations for Europe and Central Asia.

As a result of increasing needs, the ICRC is appealing for an additional 32 million CHF to cover its scaled up operations. This brings its total appeal for victims of the conflict to over 80 million CHF for 2015.

Facts and Figures

  • The conflict in eastern Ukraine has claimed the lives of at least 6,000 people and shattered untold others. Over half the population (2 million) in the regions where fighting has taken place have been displaced. (UN figures)
  • In 2015 ICRC brought more than 3,000 tons of aid to opposition-controlled areas. On both sides of the frontline, more than 156 thousand received food assistance while more than 167 thousand received other basic items.
  • In the South of Russia and Crimea, the ICRC has distributed 1,200 tons of  aid to people who fled hostilities in Ukraine.


Location: Donetsk, Vuhlehirsk, Groznoe in Eastern Ukraine, Adygea, Russia
Length: 4:57
Format: H264 mov HD
Production: Various
Camera: Mstyslav Chernov, Vladimir Fedorenko in Eastern Ukraine, Sergey Venyavsky in Russia
Sound: Russian, Ukrainian, English 
ICRC ref: AV294N Ukraine Budget
Date: 01.04, 03.04.2015 

Copyright: ICRC access all

00:00 Elderly in a home outside Donetsk, eastern Ukraine

00:11 Soundbite: Elena Drach, director of the Old Persons Home (Russian)
“Before the war, we were self-sustaining. The pensions and payments from relatives were enough, but due to the war it has become much more difficult to live. There are no pensions. Ukraine has stopped them. Many relatives have disappeared. None are paying so we had to ask help from the Red Cross”

00:32 ICRC team visiting elderly at the home.
00:42 ICRC team giving parcels to the elderly

00:50 Soundbite: Tatiana Yakubovskaya, resident in the home (Russian)
“Shells hit my house. The windows, doors, walls shattered. I had good neighbours who send me here. I had heard about this home for th elderly some time ago. I basically had no choice.”

01:16 ICRC team distributing aid to villages in Vuhlehirsk eastern Ukraine
01:37 ICRC staff visiting elderly in Vuhlehirsk
01:47 ICRC distributing parcels to people in Adygea Russia

02:04 Soundbite: Natasha displaced from Donetsk (Russian)
“The situation is still tense with heavy shelling in Donetsk where we came from and we are concerned about the psychological well-being of our child so most of all we are concerned about our child.”

02:18 Natasha filling in forms and collecting aid in Adygea                                            

02:33 Soundbite: displaced woman from Gorlokova in eastern Ukraine (no name) (Russian)
“We don’t want to go back because the war was horrible and I don’t want my children hiding in and out of basements.”

02:43 Displaced woman with man collecting aid

02:51 Soundbite: Laurent Corbaz, ICRC director of operations Europe and Central Asia. (English)
“Now we have got more access to all the places and we saw more damage every day. In every village we reach we see additional needs that had not been evaluated before and we realise that as well that for all those who had to move from one place to the other it will be a long move. It will last months, not weeks.”

03:14 destroyed buildings in Vuhelhirsk, eastern Ukraine

03:22 Soundbite: Nina Chaika, elderly woman Groznoe Eastern Ukraine (Ukrainian)
“A week after the ceasefire, we were hiding in the basement and then who could imagine that they (our grandsons) would be blown up in an explosion when they went out into the fields. Now we don’t even know where we can walk.” 

03:39 Unexploded ordinances near Donetsk
03:44 Mine awareness training run by ICRC in Mariupol, Ukraine for Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers and state emergency services.

03:55 Soundbite: Laurent Corbaz, ICRC director of operations, Europe and Central Asia (English)
“Both in opposition held areas and government held areas near to where the fighting took place, it is highly likely that there are unexploded ordinance scattered in all these fields so it is rather dangerous to have these people go there without any previous evaluation of the fields.”

04:18 Soundbite: Anastasia Isyuk, ICRC Press Officer (Russian)
“Unexploded ordinance is a concern. In spring people want to resume agricultural work and return to their land so there can be a serious risk of unexploded ordinance, especially for those living close to the frontlines. In   these regions we are working with the population to raise awareness of the risks.”

04:57 END

Duration : 4m 58s
Size : 345 MB
On Screen Credit: ICRC or logo

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