Ukraine: Aid delivered to area not controlled by government for first time in weeks
GENEVA, Sep 1 (UNHCR) - Over the last weekend, the UN refugee agency managed to deliver humanitarian aid to Horlivka and other nearby areas north of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine not-controlled by the government for the first time in several weeks.
The area saw heavy fighting in and around the town in August. Since the start of the conflict in 2014 around 40 per cent of the population has left and according to local authorities only 150,000 out of 250,000 people remain there.
"This past weekend, 13 UNHCR trucks carrying 260 metric tons of shelter materials and basic relief items travelled with support from WFP and partners and delivered reinforced plastic sheets, timber, plywood, roofing sheets, cement and other construction materials for acute and medium repairs, as well as basic relief items," UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a press briefing in Geneva.
Despite a ceasefire agreement signed in February 2015, fighting since the beginning of August around Horlivka has caused damage to residential areas and forced local residents to retreat into the basements of their ruined homes.
"More than 1,200 private houses were destroyed by shelling in Horlivka and many families' homes have been left without roofs, windows or walls," Edwards added.
According to local authorities, over 260 multi-storey buildings were damaged, including 17 hospitals and 82 schools and kindergartens. Six road bridges and nearly a quarter of the city's heating facilities were also affected. As a result, there are reported disruptions in the provision of electricity and water.
The humanitarian and shelter goods which were delivered will provide over 5,000 families with material for emergency repairs. Another 110 households will receive shelter materials for light and medium repairs. Over 3,000 beneficiaries will be provided with basic relief items such as blankets, bed linen and towels.
The distribution to the affected civilian population will be organized under the supervision of the UNHCR partner 'People in Need' in the next ten days.
"In the last several weeks, access to the conflict zone remained challenging, greatly restricting the delivery of much needed humanitarian aid to those in need. It is expected that further convoys carrying aid to the areas affected by the conflict will be organized in the next few weeks," Edwards detailed.
He added that with the imminent arrival of the cold season, preparations for autumn and winter are becoming a priority, especially for towns and villages with a high level of destruction.
In the past week, UNHCR also delivered assistance to over 1,500 people in government-controlled areas. In particular, basic relief items were distributed to some 800 people in the area of Mariupol in the southern part of the Donetsk region.
UNHCR emergency shelter materials were dispatched to the village of Sartana, following a recent spike of hostilities near the conflict line.
By Adrian Edwards, Geneva