The Adventist Development and Relief Agency provided $8 million in food supplies to more than 100,000 people displaced by violence in eastern Ukraine last year and is continuing its relief efforts as an uneasy calm settles over the region.
The Ukrainian branch of ADRA, working in partnership with the United Nations’ World Food Program, distributed the food to internally displaced people from Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions, where more than 9,000 people have died in fighting between independence-minded separatists and Ukrainian forces since April 2014.
Anatoly Begas, ADRA’s country director for Ukraine, said the $8 million in food assistance had been directed at the most vulnerable members of society: large families, single parents, disabled children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses.
“We work with various international organizations including the World Food Program, with whom we helped more than 100,000 people in 2015,” Begas said at a year-end news conference in Kiev, the Ukrainian news agency Unian reported (in Russian).
Among ADRA’s other partners in Ukraine are UNICEF and the German Foreign Ministry.
Giancarlo Stopponi, the head of the UN World Food Program in Ukraine, said the program not only assisted some of the estimated 1.3 million people who faced a food crisis during the conflict but also supported the Ukrainian economy. Stopponi, speaking beside Begas, said the program uses money from donor countries to buy locally produced food.
More than 350,000 people have received food assistance since the agency started its work in eastern Ukraine in August 2014, he said.
But the UN and ADRA only distribute food in areas controlled by the Ukrainian authorities, Stopponi added. The separatists have not authorized the relief agencies to work in their territories.
ADRA has been assisting displaced people since the conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine, and its relief work has gone far beyond the distribution of food last year.
Under a home-rebuilding program, more than 1,000 families were able to move back into their shell-damaged homes after ADRA helped carry out repairs, said Artyom Dikhtyaruk, programs director for ADRA in Ukraine.
In addition, ADRA set up 20 water-filter stations in churches and other sites as part of a project that received funding from May to November 2015. During that time, 6,000 people received 112,500 liters of drinking water.
“It should be noted that the water-filter stations continue to operate and provide water to those who need it,” the Adventist Church in Ukraine said in a statement (in Russian) last weekend.
The project, formed in partnership with ADRA’s German office and with 330,000 euros in funding from the German Foreign Ministry, also saw ADRA distribute 10,500 personal hygiene kits to 8,000 families and provide psychosocial assistance to 3,480 people.
In early 2015, ADRA worked with UNICEF to distribute 68,000 six-liter bottles of water.
A 2015 truce has ended heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine, but many of the 1.5 million people that UN says were displaced by the conflict remain homeless or living in poor conditions. The UN estimates that the conflict left 5 million people, including 1.7 million children, in need of humanitarian aid.