A three-truck convoy of aid from UN agencies reached the Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar on Friday, close to the most intense battle of the war on the eastern front, for the shattered city of Bakhmut.
The UN aid coordination office, OCHA, said the humanitarian supplies had been off-loaded in Chasiv Yar, which is some 10 kilometres to the west of Bakhmut, which Russian forces are attempting to wrest control from Ukrainian troops.
After months of fighting, the mercenary Wagner Group now claims to be in control of the eastern part of the city together with other Russian forces, but Ukrainian forces reportedly continue to defend Bakhmut from total encirclement.
Supplies for 2,000
Briefing reporters at the regular daily press conference in New York, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said the aid convoy carried supplies for around 2,000 people, “including medical and hygiene supplies, food, solar lamps and tarpaulins.”
The aid was provided by the UN migration agency IOM, Children’s Fund UNICEF, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Towns emptied out
“OCHA also note that most of the 16,000 people who previously lived in Chasiv Yar and surrounding communities have now fled“, said Mr. Dujarric.
“Chasiv Yar was completely cut off from gas supplies more than a month ago and all water is being trucked in. Access to electricity remains extremely limited with the only ambulance which is still functioning, having limited capacity due to insecurity.”
He stressed that the UN and it’s humanitarian partners were fully committed to supporting civilians still living in Chasiv Yar, which also now hosts people who have fled the intense fighting in Bakhmut – the chief target of Russia’s winter offensive, following its full-scale invasion of just over a year ago.
Less than a month ago, the UN sent another inter-agency convoy to nearby Sloviansk to the north, with supplies to people in Soledar, Chasiv Yar and Toretsk.
“So far this year, the UN along with the partners have sent 26 inter-agency convoys to communities living close to the front line, supporting nearly 230,000 men, women and children”, said the UN Spokesperson.
More than 10 of those convoys reached communities in areas controlled by Ukrainian Government forces in the Donetsk region, providing much-need items to approximately 100,000 people, he added.
Attacks on healthcare
WHO in Ukraine reported on Thursday that they have now verified 833 attacks on healthcare personnel and facilities since last year’s 24 February invasion.
“These attacks caused 101 deaths and 136 injuries”, the agency tweeted. Adding that “healthcare should never be a target.”
‘Even in the darkest times’
“Even in the darkest times, music is something that can bring relief”, tweeted the UN in Ukraine on Friday, following a concert that took place in the capital Ukraine on Thursday, despite a wave of Russian missile strikes, to mark the opening by UN culture agency UNESCO, of a new official Chair for Music.
The UN-backed orchestral post sponsored by UNESCO in Kyiv, was celebrated with a “peace concert” under the baton of Herman Makarenko, orchestra conductor and a UNESCO Artist for Peace, attended by the Resident Coordinator Denise Brown.