DRC returns to Ukraine

After completing a six-year mission in Ukraine in January 2013 the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has returned to begin emergency relief operations for internally displaced in the war-torn country. Thousands of lives have been lost, families torn apart, homes and infrastructure destroyed and more than 1 million people have been displaced internally or fled the country since the conflict began in March 2014.

As the Orthodox Christmas is celebrated January 7th 2015 the conflict in Europe’s largest country Ukraine continues and so far more than 600,000 people have been internally displaced.

“We have a history in Ukraine and the established contact network, background knowledge and access to qualified staff capacity enabled us to return and assist during the current crisis. With hundreds of thousands displaced and harsh winter conditions the needs are huge – the displaced face the lack of suitable accommodation, and access to employment and state benefits. At the same time we see increasing tensions in host communities and especially displaced women are vulnerable to abuse and violence,” says head of DRC International Department Ann Mary Olsen.

At the moment DRC in cooperation with European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is distributing cash grants of 300 USD to 2000 displaced families enabling them to provide for basic necessities such as rent, heaters and winter clothing.

“Every family has different needs and therefor it is vital to give them the room to prioritize. At the same time our staff will check in regularly with the families and identify additional needs such as problems accessing schools or hospitals, or particular vulnerabilities such as sickness, disabilities or other special needs among individual family members,” says Ann Mary Olsen.                       

DRC is assisting internally displaced Ukrainians in the areas surrounding the cities of Berdyansk, Mariupol, and Dnipropetrovsk and is expecting to expand operations and outreach in the month to come.

“DRC is experienced in implementing emergency relief operations in some of the most volatile and unstable areas of the world including Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and South Sudan and we are hoping to establish offices within the separatist held areas in Eastern Ukraine in the near future – thousands of lives are lost in the fighting, people suffer from severe food insecurity and houses and infrastructure is damaged or destroyed, so we are expecting a long-term commitment in Ukraine,” says Ann Mary Olsen.  

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