EU sends 85 tons of humanitarian aid to Ukraine

Total EU emergency and early recovery aid amounts to €95 million, including over €47 million coming from the Member States.

Hum assistance article 2“We arrived in September, and we at once received food and hygienic items,” says Tetyana, an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) from Donetsk, lulling her 2-month-old baby to sleep. She is one of the 900,000 people which have been displaced from conflict-affected regions to safer areas within Ukraine since the war began. “Before I gave birth to my child I asked for a baby carriage, and I received it [from humanitarian services]. Usually we ask for diapers, as we have nowhere to buy them, and if they appear here, people take them away very quickly,” she says.

Today, on January 27, Tetyana forms a long line with other IDPs in a military tent in Dnipropetrovsk, waiting to receive clothing. She found out about the available assistance online. The tent, which is located in the courtyard of the “Dopomoga Dnipra” charity in Dnipropetrovsk, was installed by the office of the UN High Commissioner for refugees using EU funds.

Volunteers distribute tea and coffee in the tent. People, mostly elderly persons, sit on benches around the entire inside perimeter. They are waiting for their turn to get assistance. It is dark and wet in the tent, but it provides people a respite from the rain that started early in the morning.

Today the place is visited by the EU Commissioner for humanitarian assistance, Christos Stylianides, EU ambassador to Ukraine, Jan Tombinski, director general of the EU’s humanitarian office (ECHO), Claus Sørensen, head of the ECHO office in Ukraine, Mamar Merzouk, and UN representatives. Similar tents have been erected in all affected regions of Ukraine, as well as in the big cities that host the IDPs.

Three cargo airplanes landed in Dnipropetrovsk today carrying 85 tons of humanitarian assistance from the EU. Commissioner Stylianides has arrived to personally oversee the aid distribution process. Earlier in Kyiv he met with Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, and together they announced a new EU assistance package. In 2015, the EU will allocate an additional €15 million to ensure IDPs are cared for during and after the winter.

The Commissioner stressed that the EU’s solidarity with Ukraine “is strong and tangible,” adding that the EU has been “present since the beginning of the humanitarian crisis” and “we are not going away.” “You can see planes and trucks carrying much needed items for the affected population,” he said.

The goods will be immediately distributed among the people affected by the ongoing fighting. Partners of ECHO (the EU humanitarian assistance office) will assist in distributing humanitarian aid both to IDPs and people who continue to live in the areas controlled by the pro-Russian rebels. “The Red Cross, UNCHR, and UNICEF will help to distribute these items. The EU will continue to do its part to provide the necessary aid to the most vulnerable,” added the Commissioner.

Planes and several trucks have brought the most urgently needed items: special covers for destroyed windows and roofs, water cans, blankets, sleeping bags, thermal clothing, tents, heaters, hygiene kits, and warm clothes. The first 10 tons of the cargo were distributed in Mariupol on January 29.

Additionally, EU humanitarian assistance services have developed programs of cash support to ensure that families are able to buy things they really need. So far, nearly 5,000 families have received such cash assistance.

“Our aim is to focus on the affected civilian population. The more you have access to them, the better to provide them with assistance – before it is too late,” says Mamar Merzouk, head of the ECHO office in Ukraine.

“Because, at the end of the day, you want to save people’s lives,” he adds.

 

Background. More than 900,000 people have been displaced from conflict-affected regions to safer areas within Ukraine and about 600,000 people have fled abroad, mainly into neighbouring Russia. Of the 5.2 million people living in the conflict-affected regions, around 1.4 million are considered to be highly vulnerable and in need of humanitarian assistance.

As part of its response to the crisis, the European Commission is pledging €15 million in humanitarian aid in 2015, bringing its total humanitarian assistance to over €26 million since the crisis began. Some 40% of this funding is allocated to affected populations living in rebel-held areas. Additional funding coming from EU Member States amounts to over €47 million.

The European Commission has also allocated humanitarian funding in support of the immediate winter needs of some of the most vulnerable refugees who fled the conflict in Eastern Ukraine into Belarus and Russia.

Total EU emergency and early recovery aid amounts to €95 million, including over €47 million coming from the Member States.

Besides EU has given various types of other assistance, including loans from the European Investment Bank (see infographics)

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