Avdiivka (3rd February 2017) - Intensive fighting between Ukrainian army and non-government controlled areas forces erupted again in frontline communities. Civilians on both sides of the contact line were under heavy shelling for three days and hostilities still continue. Deadly violence left at least 15 people killed and many injured. Casualties continue to be reported. Just in Avdiivka a recent flare-up in hostilities badly damaged the infrastructure and has left 16,000 residents without heating, water or electricity for some time as the temperatures at night drop to as low as -17°C. “In Adviivka more than 80 houses were damaged due to the recent shelling. The town is still unpowered and thus not fully heated. Water supply is ensured but not in full volumes and the main need is currently fuel for generators pumping the water and water storage tanks,” says People in Need Ukraine Country Director Vanessa Merlet.
Thousands of civilians are badly affected by the current situation. "In 2015 our house was partly damaged. We have not repaired it yet. Today a shell fell in my garden again. Where is the justice?" asks Oksana Valentinovna, a disabled resident of Avdiivka. "For a whole week we did not have access to water and electricity. Of course, when you have electricity you can use the heater, but now I need to find some alternative source. Iron stoves could be a solution for us,” she adds.
Water tanks and fuel for Avdiivka
People in Need, in coordination with governemnt authorities and other humanitarian organizations, has already delivered three 1000 litres water storage tanks to support the water trucking of other partners. “We are also distributing vouchers for 300 litres of diesel to run the pumping of water to the residents of Avdiivka. Sanitary rehabilitation materials for a hospital in Avdiivka was delivered,” Vanessa Merlet explains. “Shelter repairs will start next week. We will focus also on providing psychosocial service to people in affected area and to families forced from their homes through psychologists and child protection mobile teams, our 24-hour psychosocial support hotline is ready for an influx of calls,” she adds.
Nearly 200 people, mainly elderly or bedridden patients, have already been evacuated out of Avdiivka. In case of mass evacuation, People in Need is ready to help people in relocation areas. But the majority of the people would like to stay. "Yesterday in the evening the flat became warmer, but still we are in two sweaters and pants”, says Alyona from Avdiivka. "Today I was standing in a line for food kits, but aid was over before my time. Candles would also be useful. I have a big family. Now I live with the three children, my husband and his mother,” adds young woman.
According to the People in Need team on the ground, the humanitarian situation is stable yet unpredictable now. “We are ready to provide food, shelter, water, hygiene or psychosocial aid in and around the cities of Avdiivka, Marinka, Krasnogorovka directly affected by recent escalation. Currently we are coordinating with other agencies and authorities on the ground to ensure an adequate response to the needs,” Vanessa Merlet explains. “The escalation of hostilities is also affecting non-government controlled areas but the picture is not clear yet, due to the humanitarian access that has reduced, which hampers our capacity to assist people in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic," she adds.
Coal, windows or electricity for people negatively affected by frost and conflict
At the same time, People in Need continues with its winterization activities along the contact line where the shelling is a daily reality. With temperatures dropping as low as -20°C at night, and interrupted gas and electricity supplies, people have started to use stoves again to heat their homes and for cooking. But coal suppliers are reluctant to deliver coal to frontline villages.
People in Need together with the EU Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) delivers two tons of coal each to the most vulnerable families. "It is a real salvation for us. During the day the temperature hits minus ten. At night it's going to be even worse. These forty bags of coal will be enough for us till the end of this heating season," says Valentina Davidovna (75) from Marinka.
PIN winter aid in numbers
- 620 households received coal (2 tons per family)
- 60 households received solid-fuel furnaces and firewood
- 250 displaced families received cash grants for winter clothes and shoes
- 500 residents of Verkhnetoretskoe can use restored electric power to heat their houses
- 1200 households have new, high-quality windows installed to keep their houses warm
A few days before the fighting drastically escalated, People in Need managed to deliver coal also to the village of Peski, near to Avdiivka on the government-controlled side, and just 500 metres from Donetsk airport which now lies on non-government controlled territory. To eight families still living in the frontline village without electricity and interrupted water supply the support from outside is essential.
After each heavy shelling one remote part of another frontline village, Verhnetoretskoe, remained unpowered for weeks. Thanks to People in Need and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) the power line was redirected away from the contact line, where repairs were impossible due to constant fighting. Now 500 residents have access to electricity and many can return to their abandoned homes.
Aside from the help for Avdiivka and surrounding villlages People in Need is planning to distribute coal to 170 households and replace windows for 300 households in the coming weeks. This help is only possible thanks to the generous support of the EU Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO); the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID); the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
For more information please get in touch with:
Vanessa Merlet, PIN Ukraine Country Director +380 (93) 595 51 29
Tomas Kocian, PIN Humanitarian Aid Coordinator, +420 777 787 970