28 May 2021
In eastern Ukraine, where over 3 million people remain severely affected by the conflict entering its eighth year, spring is the time to think about the next winter. To help keep the chill at bay during the cold season, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, with funding from the European Union, has provided essential rehabilitation works to medical and social facilities in the Donetsk Region, including two hospitals, one ambulatory and a boarding school, that were damaged by fighting, and contributed to the renovations of a newly established centre for internally displaced persons. In total, over 14,000 people will use the services of these renovated institutions, now without risking their health due to broken windows or leaky roofs.
Before and after refurbishment
The same project also assisted over 5,000 households with coal distributions which helped keep families warm over the harsh Ukrainian winter. Three tons of coal per family were delivered to vulnerable households along the contact line to assist people like Vira (pictured above) and her son Volodymyr, who, on limited funds, have to cover essential medical costs to meet Volodymyr’s needs. This means other needs had to go unmet. “I used to buy coal on my own and hire people to help move it to the barn, which was quite expensive. Now, as I received coal as humanitarian aid, I can buy medicines for my son,” says Vira.
“My yard was hit by a shell and we sat in a basement for a month,” recalls another IOM beneficiary, Valentyna. “Currently we keep suffering from water shortages, because the work of the water filtration station is often interrupted by hostilities. I do not know what helped us get through all these difficulties. I just want peace.” Valentyna plans using the money she saved on coal to cover other essential expenses, such as drinking water, food and medicine.
The growing number of ceasefire violations since the beginning of 2021 raises concerns over the possible return to the pre-ceasefire level of hostilities or, in the worst case, potential escalation. Any deterioration of security conditions in the east will severely aggravate the humanitarian situation for 3.4 million in need of assistance, whose resilience is already strained by seven years of armed conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic.