Humanitarian work severely hampered in eastern Ukraine

The administrations of the separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine have long regarded international organizations with suspicion, accusing some of them of spying for the West.

At the end of last week UN agencies and several NGOs were ordered out of Luhansk.The organizations were not named, but Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) closed their offices, saying it was “extremely concerned” by developments. MSF continues to work in Donetsk, which has a separate government to the one at Luhansk.

The UN stated that its operations in Donetsk have also been suspended. Stephen O’Brien the head of its humanitarian mission in Ukraine, described the actions as a “blatant violation of international humanitarian law”. Stopping supplies, he stressed, meant that “hospitals cannot perform surgery because they lack anesthesia and 150,000 people are not receiving monthly food distributions. All this is having a serious impact on three million people as winter approaches.”

Relationship between the separatists and NGOs soured as the rebellion against the Kiev government gathered momentum in the east. Adding to the tension was the fact that many of the local staff working for these organizations were young, westernized and opposed to secession from Ukraine. To add to the chagrin of the rebels, some of them were also active in political and human rights fields; agents of Kiev according to their opponents.

After being seriously roughed up, the former official for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a humanitarian NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) operating in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine decided that he was not going to wait for the knock on the door by the men in camouflage. He moved to another city.

[The Independent]

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