EUROPE/UKRAINE - Fighting decreases but medical situation remains dire

Friday, 6 March 2015

Kiev (Agenzia Fides) - Although fighting in eastern Ukraine has reduced since a ceasefire came into effect on 15 February, shelling continues in some areas and medical needs remain urgent on both sides of the frontline. In a statement sent to Agenzia Fides by the organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says that residents and displaced people are living in extremely precarious conditions, many medical facilities have been damaged or destroyed and there are critical shortages of basic and specialised medicines and medical supplies. Consequently, MSF has rapidly expanded its medical activities on both sides of the frontline in the hardest-hit areas.
On 21 February an MSF team was able to reach the heavily affected city of Debaltseve, after weeks of intense fighting made it impossible to provide humanitarian assistance there. The city’s two hospitals have been damaged, with one unusable. Only three doctors remained for the entire city. Although many residents have fled or been evacuated, out of a population of 25,000 people before the fighting, at least 5000 people remained and many are in urgent need of medical care. Teams are currently assessing the situation around the city of Gorlovka. They have inaugurated mobile clinics and mental health activities, and this week will distribute essential relief items to 1000 families in the city and surrounding villages. MSF has started running mobile clinics in 19 locations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions to provide basic healthcare to people living in rural areas or displaced by the conflict.
The humanitarian situation is particularly alarming in Luhansk region as the shortage of medicines and essential supplies, including food, is even more acute. Most people who have remained in Luhansk are the most vulnerable members of the community – the elderly, disabled, and sick – who did not have the means to flee the conflict. As well as running mobile clinics in health centres in rural areas. MSF is running a mobile clinic in four sanatoriums in Svyatogorsk where more than 3000 people fleeing the conflict zone have taken refuge, many since the escalation in fighting in January. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 06/03/2015)