A 15-truck convoy organised by Swiss Humanitarian Aid reached the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine today. After a two-day journey 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 and calcium hypochlorite – were pumped into the waterworks reservoir to supply the population on both sides of the contact line with clean drinking water. 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.
In addition, a general hospital, a cancer hospital, a trauma clinic and a clinic for emergency medicine and plastic surgery were supplied with medicines and laboratory equipment. Due to the high number of war-related injuries and illnesses and the many internally displaced people, clinical facilities in Ukraine are under so much pressure that they can no longer treat all those in need. The non-payment of wages and pensions also means that patients are unable to pay for medical care.
On Tuesday 23 June, some 90 tonnes of chemicals and four chlorine production units were delivered to the waterworks in the city of Krasnoarmeysk on the government-controlled side. The Krasnoarmeysk waterworks supply drinking water to the entire region up to and including Mariupol on the Black Sea. A hospital in Dnipropetrovsk was also supplied with five haemodialysis machines for treating patients with chronic kidney failure.
In May, Switzerland sent a relief convoy carrying water treatment chemicals over the contact line to Donetsk. Today’s humanitarian convoy is therefore the second 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. Once again, the government in Kyiv has collaborated with a third country in carrying out a major humanitarian operation both in the area controlled by the government and the area under the control of non-government forces.
Switzerland remains present in the region. 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 and direct support for hospitals, 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. Switzerland is also supporting the supply of medicines and medical supplies to the area under the control of non-governmental 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 SHA specialists to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and made a financial contribution of CHF 500,000 to the World Health Organization (WHO).
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