Embassies of 8 countries, EU delegation urge Donbas conflicting sides to provide unhampered humanitarian access to all in need
The embassies of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Estonia, France, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, and the EU Delegation to Ukraine have expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Donbas and urged the conflicting sides to provide unhampered humanitarian access to all people in need.
"The donor and diplomatic community is deeply concerned by systematic and continuous ceasefire violations. We express our grave concern related to the recent escalation of hostilities near water, electricity, and gas supply infrastructure in Donetsk province," the embassies and the delegation said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
"With the onset of winter, any major disruption in essential services, such as water, electricity and heating amid freezing temperatures could have grave consequences for millions of Ukrainians," the statement said.
"We urge all parties to abide by International Humanitarian Law and ensure humanitarian access to all people in need, particularly access to those people in non-government controlled areas (NGCA) where needs are the greatest," it said.
"We urge the Government of Ukraine to do everything possible to protect people's freedom of movement by improving conditions at crossing points between government-controlled areas (GCA) and NGCA, and access to essential services, including pensions and social benefits," the statement said.
At the same time, the statement noted the Ukrainian government's responsibility to support the critical needs of Ukrainian citizens, from liberalizing registration and verification procedures to dealing with problems encountered by internally displaced persons.
"We draw attention to the launch of the Humanitarian Response Plan 2018, which highlights that 3.4 million people continue to be in critical need of assistance," the statement said.
"Humanitarian agencies must focus their activities addressing the most deprived communities, those along the line of contact and in the NGCA," it said.
"We will continue to work together with the Government of Ukraine to strengthen ongoing relief efforts, as well as bridge gaps between humanitarian assistance and government services with development funding. This will help the Government of Ukraine to bring reforms and essential services to communities most affected by the conflict and strengthen its increased role in addressing these needs," the statement said.