Rinat Akhmetov Foundation began to help civilians in Donbass back in May 2014. Its staff and also volunteers began to evacuate foster families and children’s homes of the family type established by the Foundation under its Say No to Orphanhood programme, from the military area to safe regions of Ukraine, firstly from Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. In June we started evacuating and finding accommodation, if necessary, to others – pensioners, the disabled, large families and single mothers with children. At the same time, the Foundation was delivering food to Svyatogorsk that turned into a shelter for thousands of the displaced.
The scale of the conflict in Donbass and the triggered social and economic problems are so big that on 6 August the founder of the Foundation established a separate unit – Aid+Help Humanitarian Center
. The biggest objective of the foundation is to provide help to civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts. Since August the Center has been active in the following key areas: humanitarian help to children and adults (in territories both controlled and not controlled by Ukraine), medical including psychological assistance, evacuation from the hostilities areas and accommodation as well as targeted assistance.
In terms of the humanitarian assistance we are heling the most vulnerable civilians.
Since its inception, the Humanitarian Center has operated to the four key principles that underpin the work of all international humanitarian missions and are set out in the Resolution of the UN General Assembly in 1991:
- humanity – people in need must receive help. The key objective of the humanitarian assistance is to save the lives of people and maintain their health.
- impartiality – the assistance must be delivered to those who actually need it the most without any distinction by nationality, race, gender, religion, social standing or political views.
Given the challenging humanitarian situation in the region, Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center has focused to provide help in form of deliveries of food for adults and infants and also personal care items for babies. The food parcels are intended for the most vulnerable civilians who will not survive without governmental help, social payments and jobs – the disabled of the Categories 1 and 2, pensioners of over 65 years, orphaned children, large and foster families, single mothers, families with disabled children, WW2 veterans, soldiers disabled in the WW2, the Afghanistan War or other areas of military operations , pregnant women and also the people whose houses were damaged as a result of the hostilities.
- neutrality/balance – humanitarian organizations must not take any side in a conflict and stay away from politics.
For more than four months the Akhmetov Center has been delivering humanitarian assistance to the above mentioned civilians in the territories both controlled and not controlled by the Ukrainian government. Every month it distributes 500,000 food parcels and 40,000 infant parcels. This is a significant help for the region.
- operational independence and transparency – humanitarian help must pursue only humanitarian objectives.
The Center’s help is not commercial and does not seek any benefit. The Center controls the delivery of assistance to end users and labels every item in parcels with a sticker “Charitable help. Not for sale”. We are as open and transparent as possible, we are ready to be monitored and show results.
Compliance with these principles has let the Center cooperate with such international organizations and missions as OCHA, UNHCR, World Food Program, UNICEF, MSF, ICRC, OSCE, People in Need etc. We also wish to establish clear and transparent relations with governmental agencies responsible for observance of the rights of Ukrainian civilians.
Nonetheless, the humanitarian assistance of the Aid+Help Center has been blocked by the Dnepr-1, Donbass and the Right Sector battalions of territorial defense since 14 December 2014. Their maindemands were to exchange food for war prisoners. Moreover, on 21 December 2014 their representatives announced the decision to block ALL humanitarian convoys moving through the territory of Dnepropetrovsk oblast. By doing so, they violate the key principles of the Geneva conventions and four fundamental principles of humanitarian assistance thus precipitating a humanitarian disaster. We condemn the actions of the battalions and leadership of Dnepropetrovsk oblast blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians and also believe that politicizing the humanitarian help is unacceptable.
Unfortunately, the humanitarian situation in Donbass is getting harder and harder every day. This is confirmed by the Humanitarian Map of the situation and needs in Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts. We understand that no organization or foundation can fully solve the problem on their own. Therefore, we insist that clear and transparent rules and criteria for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the ATO area should be developed on the governmental level. These rules need to be uniform for all regions and all charitable organizations in Ukraine.