The lives of the largely forgotten hundreds of thousands of people affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine are at risk once again as temperatures have started plummeting in the area.
In government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in settlements close to the contact line separating two conflicting sides, 70,000 people are effectively marooned. Over 40 percent of them are elderly, and 13 percent of the families residing in these areas have a member with a disability.
Take 82-year-old Vira Semenivna. She, her son Ivan and great-grandson Yaroslav live in a village 70 kilometers from Donetsk. Yaroslav’s parents left the village in search of employment, and now the boy gives purpose to both Vira and Ivan.
“It is good to see that elderly people are not completely abandoned”, said Ivan as the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) delivered coal to heat their house.
This winter IOM is striving to provide humanitarian assistance to over 40,000 vulnerable conflict-affected people like Vira and her family, on both sides of the contact line.
Over 12,000 people in the non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions will get enough coal to keep their homes heated to a tolerable 18 °C when it is minus 20 °C outside. On the open market, that would cost them $119, way beyond the reach of most vulnerable households, whose monthly income is a maximum of $77.
Another 6,000 people in non-government-controlled areas will receive winter kits that include warm blankets, bed linen, pillows, and towels. One thousand households in remote areas without access to gas will get electric heaters.
IOM will also conduct rehabilitation works at over 30 centers for the elderly, people with disabilities, hospitals, and other institutions in the non-government-controlled areas to improve insulation, roofing and heating, sanitation and water supply systems.
Two thousand people with disabilities, the elderly, single parents and families with three and more children close to the contact line in government-controlled areas will be given cash assistance equivalent to $40 per month for three months. This will allow them to buy winter clothing, footwear, hygiene items, medicine, and food, or pay for heating and utilities.
“IOM is a first-line provider of support to those most deeply affected by the crisis both sides of the contact line”, said Anh Nguyen, Chief of Mission at IOM Ukraine.
Since the outbreak of the conflict in 2014, we have provided humanitarian aid to over 160,000 people in eastern Ukraine, and we are committed to continuing our life-saving operations. The needs are, quite simply, dire”, continued Nguyen.
IOM’s interventions are funded by the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund.