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UN humanitarian convoy delivers 62 tons of aid to Donetsk

February 20, 2015, 8:28 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS

The aid includes essential hygiene items, warm clothes, blankets, condensed milk powder, drinking water, and medical supplies

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UNITED NATIONS, February 20. /TASS/. A United Nations humanitarian convoy with 62 metric tons of aid arrived in the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported.

"The United Nations delivered 62 metric tons of humanitarian aid to Donetsk today. This includes essential hygiene items, warm clothes, blankets, condensed milk powder, drinking water, and medical supplies procured by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO)," the report said.

"Among the estimated 5 million civilians affected by the crisis in Ukraine, those people living in zones of active fighting are particularly vulnerable, as they have limited access to humanitarian assistance. This inter-agency convoy is only one of the many initiatives the UN and its humanitarian partners are undertaking to provide relief aid to those in need," it said.

"The humanitarian needs in Ukraine are real and intense. I have just returned from a quick visit to eastern Ukraine. It is imperative we scale up: we are doing it. We revised the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and will launch it with support from Government and humanitarian actors in the coming days," UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator Neal Walker said.

"We cannot reach vulnerable people, especially those in non-governmental controlled areas, without your funding and support," he said.

"The conflict in eastern Ukraine has displaced more than one million people in Ukraine. However, many remain in the areas affected by fighting where infrastructure and housing are damaged and basic services collapsed," UNHCR Deputy Representative for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine Vanno Noupech said.

"We hope that the assistance provided will alleviate the suffering of the neediest, in particular, those staying in the makeshift shelters," Noupech stressed.

"Children living in or displaced from conflict-affected areas continue to bear the brunt of the conflict," said UNICEF Representative in Ukraine Giovanna Barberis.

"It is critical to have continuous humanitarian access to deliver aid to as many people and children in need as possible. Lack of food, water shortages, hampered access to medical facilities in the areas of ongoing fighting put children’s lives in danger, especially of the most vulnerable - children living in bomb shelters and institutions, children with disabilities, children affected by HIV," she said.

"Health care and health services have gone through a dramatic strain in Ukraine’s conflict-affected areas," said WHO Representative in Ukraine Dorit Nitzan.

"Access to care is extremely constrained due to physical destruction of health facilities, financial difficulties with professionals not receiving payments and patients unable to provide out-of-pocket payments, and a massive lack of medical supplies," Nitzan said.

"With the generous support of the European Commission, Canada, Israel, the Global Fund and Estonia, WHO is working together with the health cluster partners, to fill these many gaps and provide a lifeline for people and patients needing access to care, vaccines, and other emergency and public health services," the WHO representative said.

"Together with the humanitarian organizations operating in Ukraine, UNHCR, UNICEF, and WHO, are concerned with the absence of secured humanitarian access to deliver aid to children and families affected by the conflict across the country. Since March 2014, over one million people have been displaced within Ukraine," the UN OCHA said.

"Of these, more than 134,000 are children. Displaced people affected by tuberculosis remain unmonitored and HIV-positive patients have no access to medication. In addition, diseases surveillance is broken and diseases outbreaks could reach catastrophic consequences," the report said.

"With the continuing flow of the displaced population from the conflict-affected areas, the United Nations is scaling up assistance in areas of difficult access as well as in other zones that have already been reached," it said.

Russia’s 14th truck convoy with humanitarian aid returned from Donbass (Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine) on February 15. Since August 2014, Russia has delivered to Donetsk and Lugansk more than 20,000 tons of humanitarian cargoes.

On February 16, Russian Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said formation of a regular humanitarian convoy will be completed within 10 days.

Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have fled Ukraine’s embattled east as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April 2014, to regain control over parts of the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR).

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agreed on a ceasefire at talks on September 5, 2014 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

Since then, there have been numerous reports of violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day.

Ukraine’s parliament on September 16, 2014 adopted the law on a special self-rule status for certain districts in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions for three years. The law took effect October 18, 2014 but was then repealed by Kiev.

The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum on September 19, 2014 in Minsk. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014.

The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

The Contact Group’s meeting in late December 2014 ended with no major results. The meeting scheduled for January 16, 2015 did not take place as no representatives of Kiev arrived in Minsk.

A regular meeting of the Contact Group on Ukrainian settlement occurred January 31 and also ended without visible results. DPR and LPR representatives Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego stressed that Kiev presents ultimatums to militiamen instead of talks.

Regular talks of the participants of the Trilateral Contact Group on settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine were held in Minsk on February 10-12.

At that meeting of the Contact Group, a 13-point package of measures on implementation of the Minsk agreements was adopted, in particular, the agreement on cessation of fire from February 15, withdrawal of heavy armaments, as well as measures on long-term political settlement of the situation in Ukraine, including enforcement of the special self-rule status for certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The document was signed by OSCE Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, ex-Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, Russian Ambassador in Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, as well as self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's republics' leaders Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky.

Talks of the Normandy Four leaders (Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France) on the Ukrainian issue also ended February 12 in Minsk.

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