Nearly four and a half million people have been caught up in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Today the European Commission announced €24 million in humanitarian assistance to address the basic needs of those most badly affected by the crisis on both sides of the contact line.
The announcement comes as the European Commission and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs host a high-level conference in Brussels to raise awareness of the humanitarian consequences resulting from the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
On the occasion, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: "Four years of conflict have put a tremendous strain on the civilian population in eastern Ukraine. We cannot overlook that there's a humanitarian crisis at the European Union's doorstep. Supporting all those in need, wherever they are, is a priority for the EU. Our new aid package will provide essential assistance such as food, healthcare and education for children."
The EU, together with its Member States, is the biggest donor of humanitarian aid, early recovery and development assistance to Ukraine. With today's announcement, the EU has now provided over €677 million since the beginning of the conflict in 2014.
Humanitarian needs, particularly in the non-government controlled areas, are on the rise. This is largely due to restrictions of humanitarian organisations' work in these areas, and the suspension of payment of social benefits, including pensions. Indiscriminate shelling constantly hampers the provision of essential services, such as water and electricity, on both sides of the contact line.
Today's conference in Brussels discussed strengthening crisis response through better linking of humanitarian assistance and medium- to long-term reform to improve social cohesion and economic development.
EU humanitarian assistance ensures the provision of food, water, essential household items, emergency housing repairs, protection, education in emergencies, and healthcare (including psychosocial activities).
The EU has repeatedly expressed concern about the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine and constantly called for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. The EU urges all parties to the conflict to re-establish full access of all international humanitarian organisations to the non-government controlled areas, and to allow smooth and speedy delivery of humanitarian assistance in line with humanitarian principles and International Humanitarian Law.