A 15-truck convoy organised by Swiss Humanitarian Aid reached the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine today. After a journey of several hours from Dnipropetrovsk through areas on both sides of the contact line, the convoy delivered approximately 300 tonnes of chemicals to the Donetsk water company. As soon as the convoy reached the company, the water treatment chemicals – mainly aluminium sulphate – were pumped into the waterworks reservoir to supply the population on both sides of the contact line with clean drinking water. Swiss Humanitarian Aid organised this delivery because the drinking water supply in the conflict zone no longer meets health standards owing to a lack of disinfection capacities, resulting in the spread of diseases like hepatitis A.
This humanitarian convoy, which is being accompanied by Manuel Bessler, the Federal Council Delegate for Swiss Humanitarian Aid, is the first of its size to have crossed the contact line between the government-controlled area and that under the control of non-government forces since the armed conflict first broke out in the region. It is also the first time that the government in Kyiv has collaborated with a third country in carrying out a major relief operation both in the area controlled by the government and the area under the control of non-government forces.
In addition to the programmes which the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) have long been supporting in Ukraine, Swiss Humanitarian Aid has been providing aid on both sides of the contact line since the conflict erupted in Ukraine at the beginning of 2014. Swiss Humanitarian Aid initially concentrated its efforts on providing funding and support staff for multilateral organisations (UNHCR, WFP, ICRC) active on both sides of the contact line.
In addition, Swiss Humanitarian Aid has made available a budget of CHF 3 million in 2015 for four bilateral lines of action to assist civilians in need. Besides water-treatment assistance, Swiss Humanitarian Aid is also providing emergency assistance for those most in need via the Czech partner organisation People in Need which is, for example, repairing damaged homes. Swiss Humanitarian Aid is also supporting the supply of medicines and medical supplies to the area under the control of non-government forces and of medical equipment to the government-controlled area. In order to improve the coordination and efficiency of humanitarian relief efforts on the ground, Switzerland has also seconded Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit specialists to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and made a financial contribution of CHF 500,000 to the WHO.