ONLY 20 per cent of the aid needed to help the five million people affected by the continuing conflict in Ukraine has reached the country, UNICEF has said.
The UN has appealed for £35 million to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of children and families in eastern Ukraine, where 14 months of fighting have displaced 1.4 million people, including at least 174,000 children.
The British charity Mission Without Borders said that, as the winter season approached, the situation was becoming critical.
The charity’s UK national manager, Carly Jones, said: “We remain very concerned for the people of Ukraine, and the long-term impact the conflict is having on communities. Access to water is a critical issue, with up to one million people at risk of a lack of access to safe water.
“It’s not just the eastern region that’s been affected. Across the country, internally displaced refugees need shelter and support.”
The charity works with Churches and government agencies to help refugees, and has made provisions for rehabilitation and counselling services for children experiencing trauma as a result of the fighting.
Convoys of aid to areas of eastern Ukraine under rebel control have been blocked in recent days. The humanitarian foundation run by the richest man in Ukraine, Rinat Akhmetov, said that it might have to close its distribution points if convoys could not get through. It is one of the few agencies able to get aid across the front line to help civilians.
Internal political clashes escalated into full-scale violence last year, as war broke out between the post-revolutionary Ukrainian government and pro-Russian insurgents, who were supported by Russian troops. A ceasefire was signed in September, but collapsed in January this year. Although a new ceasefire has been signed, there are still reports of fighting.
Local reports say that seven priests have been murdered and 40 church ministers held in captivity since the start of the conflict.