The European Union is increasing its humanitarian response to help people affected by the crisis in eastern Ukraine, with a new aid package worth €15 million announced today by European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides during his visit.
The announcement comes amid concerns over the humanitarian situation with an estimated 5 million people in need of assistance in Ukraine.
"It's essential that humanitarian aid gets to all vulnerable people affected by the conflict. Humanitarian organisations need to have safe and speedy access to the conflict areas. I am very concerned about the continued fighting in Ukraine's Donbas, despite the ceasefire agreement. The impact of the violence on the civilian population is alarming", European Commissioner Christos Stylianides said.
"This extra funding will give a significant boost to our on-going aid operations, reaching the most vulnerable people through the provision of food, hygiene kits, blankets, healthcare, clean water, shelter and other lifesaving assistance, both in government and non-government-held areas," added Commissioner Stylianides.
The new funding brings the Commission's total humanitarian and early recovery assistance to vulnerable people hit by the conflict in Ukraine to over €62 million in addition to important bilateral assistance from a number of EU Member States.
Together with the funding provided directly by Member States, the EU as a whole has directed over €223 million to those affected by the conflict since early 2014.
The EU has kept the humanitarian aspect of crisis in Ukraine high on its agenda from the early days of the conflict and stands ready to further scale up support as required by the situation.
Projects implemented until June 2015 - funded partially or totally by the Commission - have directly helped 1,570,000 Ukrainians. Over 290,000 (18%) of people assisted were children under 17 and over 160,000 (10%) were elderly over 50 years of age. The Commission's humanitarian funding addresses the basic needs of the population in the areas directly affected by the conflict who are particularly vulnerable, about 55% of the Commission's humanitarian assistance is for the benefit of people in need in non-government controlled areas. EU humanitarian aid also goes to internally displaced people and to refugees who have fled the conflict areas, as well as to returnees. EU humanitarian aid is often distributed in the form of cash and vouchers, allowing maximum efficiency and preserving the dignity of the affected people. The recipients can buy essential items at the local shops and markets, thus supporting the local economy.
On the ground, the assistance is being delivered through the Commission's humanitarian partner organisations, including UNICEF, UNHCR, WHO, IOM, Save the Children, Danish Refugee Council, People In Need, WFP and ICRC.
The European Commission provides humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable communities, irrespective of ethnic or religious background and irrespective of which area of the conflict they live in or have fled to. The Commission is also assisting Ukrainian refugees in Belarus and Russia through the national Red Cross Societies in the respective countries. All EU humanitarian assistance is based solely on needs.
For more information: Factsheet on EU humanitarian assistance to Ukraine http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/ukraine_en.pdf