September 10 2014

SOS Children´s Villages steps up response to urgent needs in Eastern Ukraine

10 September 2014 - SOS Children's Villages Ukraine will move to the northern part of the Lugansk region to help more than 1,000 internally displaced children and their families who escaped from the war zone.

“We are trying to find a place in the region that will be safe enough for our office, and to help the families who have left Lugansk,’ said Lyudmila*, the director of the SOS Children’s Village Lugansk.
“Some of the families just barely escaped with their lives. They have neither money nor documents with them. We will set up our office in the Starobilsk district and also provide support in the Novopskovsky and Bilokurakinsky regions, where many refugees are staying at the moment.”
Help for families at risk who are still in Lugansk has had to be suspended, because there have been no mobile phone connections in the city for two months.

More than 1,000 children in the Lugansk region need help
Lyudmila and her team analysed the northern districts in the region to determine where the most refugees were staying. Some 632 families and 1,073 children have been registered as refugees in three districts.
“These are just the ones who are registered,” Lyudmila explained. “We believe there are more people from Lugansk living in those three districts. The local social services are waiting for us, as they cannot handle the situation.”
The three districts concerned are mainly agricultural and are not prepared to provide for so many people who desperately need everything from financial aid to housing, medicine and school materials, as well as jobs and psychological help geared towards refugees. Many of the refugees are children, some of whom suffer from diabetes and need medicine.
A UN report published at the end of August claims that more than one million people have become refugees since the conflict started. Around 260,000 of them are presumed to still be in Ukraine, while over 800,000 may have crossed the border to Russia.

Within a moving battle zone
Lyudmila’s team is also looking for houses for SOS families living close to the battle zone. “One of the families is quite close to the frontline, because the fighting has moved closer to them. Just today the frontline moved again, and it’s more or less quiet there. At the moment it’s not so easy to find houses for our big families, but we are trying to bring them closer to each other so that it will be easier to help them, and so they can help each other.”
For the last two months SOS Children´s Villages Ukraine has been providing the families with cash payments, as the normal state child support, totalling 2,500 Hryvnia (approximately 150 euros) per child per month, is no longer being paid out to people in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions. The families relied on these social benefits for their survival.
“Other families in the region seriously struggle. They only survive thanks to humanitarian aid," said Lyudmila.
The wish for stability unites
She continued: “We don’t know how long this will go on. The only thing we know is that there are a lot of families who need help.”
“We are all shattered. We are tired, so tired of this situation. On our team we have both Ukrainians and Russians, we often talk about the situation. We all want stability. All we want is to go home to Lugansk.”

*Please note that we have omitted the last name of the SOS Children’s Village Lugansk director for safety reasons. She still has family in Lugansk.