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Ukraine, Msf report: it’s a humanitarian emergency

Europe/Miscellaneous di

Ukraine is one of the topics on the international board. Over 15000 injured patients, 1600 pregnant women followed by hospitals, about 4000 people with chronic diseases. These numbers are reported by Gabriele Eminente, Msf Italy Director-General, in our interview.

 Where does Msf work in Ukraine? Which are its activities?

Msf planned its humanitarian intervention in a different way because of the kind of conflict which developed in Ukraine in the last year. We usually work with our facilities and fields after an emergency. However, we chose an operational strategy base on five teams which could move with greater perception and portability on territory. The area that i mean is the front line and the band immediately behind. Some groups are located in Donetsk and Lugansk, but we have mobile units for two reasons. The first one, watching Kramatorsk bombing, it’s because we are supporting local hospital and health care facilities: unfortunately, civilian targets have not enough protected. The second one concerns the lack of water, food, power and above all drugs in Donbass region, which we are equipping where they’re missing.

Then we give a psychological assistance to an exhausted population. We’ve already started a hundred talks with individuals and about two thousand with group of people.

But Msf was already in Ukraine before the civil war because there is a high percentage of people affected with Hiv and multidrug-resistant tubercolosis.


Hospitals and health centers are constantly under attack from the beginning of the year: after the second Minsk agreement, does the humanitarian corridor eventuality exist?

First of all I want to note the two requests from Msf to Ukrainians and separatists: the instant cease fire; population’s releasing from bombed areas. About the humanitarian corridor, Debaltseve context is one of the most critical as it’s halfway between Donetsk and Lugansk and it’s an important road and railway intersection: so, it’s an essential military target for the warring parties. At the beginning of February, it’s announced the opening of a corridor to exit remaining civilians, but it’s been very difficult to enforce it. It’ll be crucial to verify how the troops will transpose institutional directives.


How did war progress in the last year?

This crisis have lived many steps. Last summer was particularly bloody, as Malaysian shot down. The cease fire on September 2014 was a breakdown. And it started a new violent spell between 2014 and 2015. There’s two changes from last year to now. First one we are in the middle of winter. Second one this permanently war has been increasing other effects: Kiev has stopped payment of salaries and financial flows to public servants who live in the eastern regions. This has played up lack of cash, food, and drugs. Msf has collected testimonies from civilians, particularly women and children, who has been forced to refuge in a homeless half-finished center.


How are Ukrainian and Pro-Russian populations, especially children, wounded after so many wartime trauma? How will this factor influence peace process?

 As in other similar contexts, there are deep psychological wounds to heal. Our current work is explicitly focusing on the immediate mental assistance. Citizens have shared in two different languages and cultures parts. But now we need end war and save them.


The Un have reported more than 5000 victims since Ukrainian crisis.

 I think we have gone over. Ourselves we are observing in Ukraine. Msf’s intervention in Donetsk and Lugansk regions clearly speaks: over 15000 injured patients, 1600 pregnant women followed by our hospitals, about 4000 people with chronic diseases. These alarming informations are showing us a real war near our countries. Perhaps Europe and Italy have not exact feeling about Ukrainian situation yet.


Is Ukrainian war underestimated by Western and European countries?

This crisis has not interested the opinion like other conflicts yet. The media have showed the search for a diplomatic solution in recent days. But this event could due to an high and low evolution of Ukrainian war. However, we are speaking about an European fight: it’s hard to understand why there’s not a steady attention about it.

Alessandro Conte
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