© Jesper Guhle
© Jesper Guhle

DRC assistance continues despite fighting in Ukraine

30 people have lost their lives and another 100 has been wounded during shelling of the city of Mariupol in Eastern Ukraine that also caused massive destruction of infrastructure and further displacements in the war-torn region. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) continues relief efforts in the area in close cooperation with European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO).

The massive shelling of the large city of Mariupol is the latest development in the continued destabilization of Eastern Ukraine. Thousands of lives have been lost, homes and infrastructure destroyed and an estimated 1 million people have been displaced internally or fled the country since the conflict began in March 2014.

“We are working out of our office in neighboring Berdyansk and will uphold our winterization-assistance to 6000 displaced in areas hosting high numbers of IDPs in Eastern Ukraine, including Mariupol. An office in Mariupol itself is about to be opened as well. Furthermore, we are currently looking into possible initiatives for conflict-affected households from the city of Mariupol– they will face the same difficulties as our current beneficiaries and will be in need of shelter, blankets, clothes and food,” says International Director for DRC, Ann Mary Olsen.

DRC returned to Ukraine in November last year to provide assistance during the present conflict. DRC is assisting the most vulnerable groups of internally displaced Ukrainians in the areas surrounding the cities of Berdyansk, Dnipropetrovsk and Mariupol.

“The situation in Eastern Ukraine is volatile and we must be flexible in our response. The winterization-assistance is given in the form of cash grants, allowing families to prioritize their most urgent needs, whether it is food, rent, blankets, fuel or medicine. At the same time we risk facing new displacement  out of conflict areas such as Mariupol – hence we are already assessing potential needs and opportunities in terms of directing assistance towards this group,” says Ann Mary Olsen.

In January 2013, DRC exited Ukraine upon completion of its former programs. DRC launched a series of monitoring missions to Ukraine starting in April 2014, and re-opened its doors in November 2014 in order to render its expertise in light of the current humanitarian crisis