(Ukraine, 11 December 2018): On her mission to eastern Ukraine, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Ms. Osnat Lubrani was intent to witness first-hand the suffering of conflict-affected civilians and observe the humanitarian efforts underway on both sides of the “contact line”.

“Our humanitarian operations are guided by the core humanitarian principles of humanity, independence, impartiality and neutrality, and undertaken in full respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders, in accordance with relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions,” Ms. Lubrani stated. During the visit to the Entry/Exit Checkpoint (EECP) Stanytsia Luhanska, Ms. Lubrani joined hundreds of other people while making the arduous crossing from governmental-controlled areas (GCA) to non-governmental-controlled areas (NGCA). The wooden footbridge has been in need of urgent repair for a while and was further damaged by yet another shelling only nine days ago. “Having walked across the pedestrian wooden bridge myself today, I could genuinely experience the hardship of those who are forced to make this challenging journey every day to access social services or simply visit a doctor or relatives,” she said. Together with the Minister of Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs Mr. Vadym Chernysh, Ms. Lubrani also observed the recently renovated facilities at the checkpoint. “I commend the Government’s efforts to improve the crossing conditions here at Stanytsia Luhanska and other checkpoints. However, seeing the elderly, as well as people with disabilities continue to move across this rickety bridge, is a reminder of how they struggle in their daily lives, even more so with the harsh winter taking hold,” Ms Lubrani said. Stanytsia Luhanska, which is the only crossing point in the whole of Luhanska oblast, is one of five EECPs of the “contact line”, which stretches to 427 kilometers. “One crossing point for the entire oblast is definitely not sufficient,” Ms. Lubrani stressed, noting the lack of progress regarding the opening of additional checkpoints along the “contact line”. Ms. Lubrani also met with the representatives of the de-facto entities in the NGCA and discussed the humanitarian situation on the ground and the need to scale-up humanitarian efforts to reverse the deprivation of millions of people. Ms. Lubrani’s visit to eastern Ukraine comes with the conflict entering its fifth year. Today, 3.5 million people urgently require humanitarian assistance and protection services. “The United Nations and humanitarian agencies will continue to provide assistance and protection services to the most vulnerable on both sides of the “contact line”. So far in 2018, we have reached over 1.1 million people in need on both sides,” she stated. “However, urgent political solutions are needed through the officially agreed processes to bring an end to the suffering of millions of civilians,” Ms. Lubrani stressed. Ahead of the Minsk talks next week, as a New Year approaches, she expressed hope that agreement can also be reached on a plan to repair the damaged bridge at the Stanytsia Luhanska EECP, which all view as a matter of urgency to allow civilians to continue their daily lives in a more dignified and secure way. Lack of funds for humanitarian operations continues to pose a serious challenge. “Limited funding has also made it impossible for us to reach everyone in need,” she emphasized making a reference to the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan, which is only 38 per cent funded. “I call on the international community to enable us to help the millions of most vulnerable men, women and children on both sides of the “contact line” and increase their support for humanitarian activities planned for 2019,” Ms. Lubrani concluded.

For further information, please contact: Valijon Ranoev, OCHA Ukraine: ranoev@un.org, tel. +38 050 422-3943