GENEVA, 25 September 2015 (UNHCR) - On Wednesday, the authorities of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People`s Republic in eastern Ukraine, decided to expel with immediate effect the international staff of humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR, from the areas they control.

GENEVA, 25 September 2015 (UNHCR) - On Wednesday, the authorities of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People`s Republic in eastern Ukraine, decided to expel with immediate effect the international staff of humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR, from the areas they control.

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UNHCR deeply regrets this measure, which comes at a critical time as harsher winter weather is about to hit the region. We hope that this decision can be reviewed and that our work can resume as soon as possible, in cooperation with all parties concerned.

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More than two million Ukrainians have been displaced internally and externally since the beginning of the conflict and they are in need of food, shelter, healthcare and other essential assistance. Furthermore, people in the areas affected by the conflict have been severely impacted by the destruction of housing and infrastructure, as well as by the breakdown of services. Many of them are trapped and isolated.

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Assistance should reach people affected where they are, to avoid further hardship and prevent displacement. As winter approaches, humanitarian assistance will need to be scaled up. Acknowledging that humanitarian assistance is also being provided by other actors, UNHCR is ready to play its part, in particular by contributing much needed shelter assistance.

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UNHCR calls on all relevant actors to grant full humanitarian access to people in need in eastern Ukraine and to facilitate the unhindered movement of humanitarian assistance and personnel.

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For more information on this topic, please contact:
• In Kyiv, Nina Sorokopud at +38 050 310 17 67
• In Geneva, William Spindler at +41 79 217 3011