An assessment mission conducted by Swiss experts to the conflict affected areas at the end of August 2015 confirmed that humanitarian needs with regard to safe drinking water and healthcare persist. As a result of this finding, today a total of 31 trucks have been sent from Dnipropetrovsk to Krasnoarmiisk, Mariupol and Donetsk, respectively, providing the Vodadonbas water utility with different chemical products such as aluminum sulfate and chlorine for the disinfection of drinking water for the local population on both sides of the contact line. In addition, four hospitals in Donetsk have been provided with lab reagents, anti-cancer drugs and other medical goods. A similar shipment will be sent soon to two hospitals in Dnipropetrovsk.
The delivery of the humanitarian goods was organized with the active support of the Ukrainian authorities in Kyiv and interlocutors in the non-government controlled area of the Donetsk region. Precious logistical assistance for the preparation of the shipment was provided by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and other international partner organizations. The transport itself was conducted by an expert team of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Department supported by the Swiss Embassy and the Swiss Cooperation Office in Kyiv. The total value of the consignment is approx. USD 1 million.
Between April and June 2015, Switzerland had already carried out two similar aid transports to Eastern Ukraine, benefitting the civilian population on both sides of the contact line. A total of 38 trucks carrying 740 tons of water-treatment chemicals and medical supplies were made available. Approximately 3.2 million people were thereby supplied with safe drinking water for more than six months. Furthermore, five hospitals were provided with medical equipment and medicines. As a result of this, in Dnipropetrovsk at least one hundred patients suffering from kidney failure received regular kidney dialysis, and in Donetsk chemotherapy for several hundred cancer patients and other treatments were ensured for three months.
Switzerland shares the concerns of international humanitarian actors about the suspension of most of their regular aid operations in the non-government controlled area since summer, despite the continuing need for shelter, drinking water and medical supplies especially for the local population living close to the contact line. The situation is also critical for the elderly, for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses, and for families with no fixed income.
Switzerland therefore recalls all parties to the conflict the obligation to grant humanitarian organizations rapid and unrestricted access to those in need, particularly in view of the upcoming winter months, in accordance with universally agreed principles based on international humanitarian law.
Switzerland urges all parties to do their utmost to ensure permanent availability of - and access to - water, electricity, and gas as well as social and financial services. The capacities provided at checkpoints along the contact line should be further enhanced to improve freedom of movement across the contact line and within the region.
The recent stabilization of the ceasefire and certain progress achieved in the implementation of the Minsk Arrangements are welcomed developments. Switzerland once more expresses its hope for a peaceful and lasting resolution of the conflict.
Embassy of Switzerland to Ukraine
Swiss Cooperation Office in Ukraine