Swiss convoy to aid civilian population in eastern Ukraine reaches Donetsk

Local news, 15.05.2015

On 15 May 2015 Switzerland sent a convoy carrying 300 tonnes of chemical water treatment products to eastern Ukraine to supply approximately 3.5 million people in need in the Donetsk region with clean drinking water. This is the first humanitarian convoy 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 began in the region. The convoy is being accompanied by Manuel Bessler, the Federal Council Delegate for Swiss Humanitarian Aid.

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.

Local news, 09.07.2015

On July 9, 2015 the Swiss Cooperation Office in Ukraine launched in Kyiv the new Swiss Cooperation Strategy for Ukraine 2015-2018.

The event took place in the premises of the Radisson Blu Hotel (22 Yaroslaviv Val Street).

The welcoming words were addressed by the Swiss Ambassador to Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova Mr. Christian Schönenberger and by honourable guests representing Ukrainian authorities, i.e. Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Regional Development, Construction and Municipal Economy of Ukraine Mr. Hennadiy Zubko, First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine Mrs. Yuliya Kovaliv, Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine Mrs. Vladyslava Rutytska, and Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine Mr. Ihor Perehinets. The Ukrainian high-level guests, who represent the key national partners for the Swiss Cooperation Strategy 2015-2018 highlighted the relevance and the effectiveness of the Swiss assistance provided to Ukraine. They also expressed their gratitude to the Swiss Confederation for the long-term and productive cooperation.

Afterwards, the Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Ukraine Mr. Guido Beltrani presented the new Swiss Cooperation Strategy for Ukraine 2015-2018 and highlighted its most important aspects.

Switzerland provides technical, financial and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine since almost 20 years, in line with the Framework Agreement between the Government of the Swiss Confederation and the Government of Ukraine on Technical and Financial Cooperation, signed on October 13, 1997 and ratified on May 14, 1999.

Switzerland's support generated a relevant and tangible impact in the past. Results achieved during 2011-2014 thanks to Swiss funded projects are, among others: (i) the living conditions of 120’000 inhabitants of rural areas of Ukraine have been enhanced thanks to more responsive local authorities and improved local services, in particular water supply and solid waste management; (ii) the infant mortality rate decreased on average from 9‰ to 5.5‰ in those regions of Ukraine supported by Swiss funded health projects; (iii) the municipal energy efficiency in the city of Vinnytsia improved considerably and Vinnytsia was rewarded as the first Ukrainian city with the European Energy Award for its efforts in this area; (iv) 11’000 small and medium agribusinesses in Ukraine are able to save 100 million USD annually thanks to a simplified business environment, e.g. the cancellation of the mandatory certification of grain quality and grain silos. The support provided during 2011-2014 amounted to CHF 57 million. For the period 2015-2018, Switzerland has decided to increase its support to Ukraine with an estimated contribution of CHF 100 million for the four years.

During 2015-2018, Switzerland is committed to promoting cohesion, inclusive democratic governance and sustainable social and economic development in Ukraine. In line with this overall goal, Switzerland will focus its support on the following domains: governance (in particular decentralization) and peacebuilding, health, energy efficiency and economic development. Therefore, Switzerland is strengthening its support in those areas where it has been active until now and has achieved tangible results, while on the same time it will also support the new reform agenda of Ukraine and promote peaceful solutions to the on-going armed conflict. Additionally, Switzerland provides humanitarian assistance to Ukraine through direct interventions and as part of international relief efforts.

While parts of the Swiss strategy will be implemented countrywide, special attention will be given to those areas of the country affected by the armed conflict and to vulnerable people.

The Swiss Cooperation Strategy for Ukraine 2015-2018 (PDF, Number of pages 48, 1.9 MB, English)