BRUSSELS, 27-1-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — The European Union is increasing its humanitarian assistance in Ukraine where the latest surge of violence has deepened an already desperate situation. Thousands of people are suffering from the combined impact of the conflict, displacement, extreme poverty and the harsh winter. The European Commission is pledging an additional € 15 million in humanitarian assistance. This will address the basic needs of the most needy in Mariupol and the other areas affected by the conflict, the internally displaced and refugees, and the returnees who are going back home. The funds cover daily necessities, such as shelter, food, water, healthcare, and warm clothing. They bring the EU emergency and early recovery aid, including contributions from the Member States, to € 95 million.
The new aid package was announced by Christos Stylianides, the EU Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, who is visiting Ukraine. It includes material and financial aid and is provided by the European Commission and Member States in a joint gesture of solidarity.
“The European Union is standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine who most need help. The European Commission has been providing humanitarian support since the start of this crisis, but now the needs are more acute than ever: and we are acting to help those most vulnerable to get through the latest wave of hostilities and the coldest months of the year. The planes are a symbol of EU solidarity,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.
“EU airlift”: in a joint operation organised by the European Commission and Member States, three cargo planes will deliver humanitarian supplies to Ukraine (tents, blankets, sleeping bags and warm clothes) to help people most in need in Ukraine, including in the rebel-held areas. Aid is also being provided by road: trucks with assistance are scheduled to reach the East of Ukraine in the coming hours. In total, 85 tonnes of relief supplies will be delivered.
Germany, Poland, Austria, Finland, Denmark, France, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovenia and the European Commission have provided the relief items: Member States have acted together through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Likewise the close cooperation with humanitarian partners, including UNICEF and UNHCR, is crucial to the relief operation.
“The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is becoming more critical every day and this additional EU aid package is essential for the many struggling to survive in harsh conditions,” said CommissionerChristos Stylianides in Kyiv, where he is meeting with the President, Deputy Prime Minister and Chair of the Parliament. Tomorrow he will be in the Eastern city of Dnepropetrovsk to personally oversee the delivery of the EU supplies and visit civilians displaced by the conflict. “This additional proof of EU’s solidarity towards Ukraine comes at a tragic moment as the intensification of shelling and fighting has led to the tragic death of dozens of civilians in the past days,” the Commissioner explained.
More than 900,000 people have been displaced within Ukraine and close to 600,000 have fled abroad. Around 1.4 million in the affected region are highly vulnerable and in need of humanitarian assistance.
In response to the humanitarian crisis, the European Commission has already provided over € 32.5 million: € 11 million in humanitarian assistance, of which around 40% is going to non-government-controlled areas, and € 21.5 million for urgent preparations for the winter and recovery aid. The Commission’s assistance is also addressing the immediate needs of the Ukrainian refugees beyond Ukraine’s borders. Funding coming from the Member States amounts to over € 47 million.
The EU stands fully behind the efforts towards a political solution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The EU calls on all parties to fully implement the Minsk agreements and live up their international commitments, especially on Russia to use its considerable influence over separatist leaders and to stop any form of military, political or financial support. It calls on all sides to engage in a meaningful and inclusive dialogue leading to a lasting solution; to protect the unity and territorial integrity of the country and to strive to ensure a stable, prosperous and democratic future for all Ukraine’s citizens.
The European Union deplores the renewed intensification of shooting and shelling in eastern Ukraine, which led to the tragic death of dozens of civilians in the past few days. A lasting ceasefire remains key to the success of the current efforts to reach a sustainable political solution, based on respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The EU has also stepped up its commitment for Ukraine’s economic and political reforms. In March 2014, the EU committed to support Ukraine’s ambitious reform process with EUR 11 billion for the next few years. The European Commission disbursed from its own budget more than EUR 1.6 billion in 2014. The assistance to Ukraine is delivering mainly through macro-financial assistance, budget support and projects.
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