Ukraine: Senior UN official calls for end to violence, urges scaling up aid ahead of winter

A UNHCR staff member asks a displaced Ukrainian man about the situation in his native Donetsk region, which has been heavily affected by the conflict. Photo: UNHCR/I. Zimova

24 August 2014 – United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos called again today for an end to the violence in Ukraine as she continued her visit to areas of the country's crisis-riven eastern regions to see for herself the impact of the continued fighting on millions of people.

Ms. Amos, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, has been in Ukraine since late last week. A statement issued earlier today by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which Ms. Amos heads, noted that since March, around 200,000 people have fled their homes in search of safety within Ukraine and tens of thousands have fled to neighbouring countries.

“Every day, people die, are wounded in the fighting or find themselves on the road, scared and uncertain about the future.”

Visiting a centre for internally displaced persons (DPs) in Krasnyi Lyman, Ms. Amos met women who had fled the fighting with their families. “I met families who had to leave all their possessions behind as their homes were reduced to rubble. They all said the same thing. The fighting must stop so we can feel safe again.”

Ms. Amos also met local authorities in Sloviansk which, until recently, was gripped by fierce fighting. She commended the progress made in getting basic infrastructure repaired and the ongoing work preparing for winter. A key priority is to get all children in school by 1 September.

“Substantial numbers of people are already returning to the city because the fighting has stopped. This needs to be replicated in parts of the country where there is still ongoing fighting,” she said.

Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said the Organization wants to get more aid to people in affected areas but is hampered by continued insecurity. Despite the security challenges, she said that the UN is looking at ways in which to get into the more difficult parts of eastern Ukraine.

“As winter approaches, assistance must be scaled up. Many of those displaced are already vulnerable and the temporary shelters housing them will not withstand the cold temperatures. We need to provide people with support so that they can cope through the winter,” she said.


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