The EU is right to act on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Andrij Waskowycz [Caritas Ukraine]

Today, the Foreign Affairs Council will hold an extraordinary meeting on Ukraine. The EU humanitarian aid package will be on the table for discussion; and hopefully the Council will propose to increase it, writes Andrij Waskowycz.

Andrij Waskowycz is the President of Caritas Ukraine.

Such a decision would be good news for the Ukrainian people suffering from the conflict. And a sensible decision for the EU to take.

Ukraine is at the doorstep of the European Union. The heat of the combat is maybe not so perceptible in Brussels. But it surely is in the capitals of the 4 member states bordering with us: Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. Notwithstanding the fact that almost 1 million people have fled the fighting, and are internally displaced people across the country. Just on the other side of their borders.

In addition, over 600,000 Ukrainian have fled abroad. Mainly to bordering countries. Moreover, 5.2 million people are still living in the conflict area. If the situation worsens, many of them will decide to flee eventually. The surge in IDPs has gone very fast in the last two months. As of January 2015, the number of registered IDPs are some 900,000.  And counting.

The needs of these people are massive. Ill and injured people, traumatised children, vulnerable teens and young adults, economically deprived families, elderly people. They need everything that is normally taken for granted in Europe. A roof, warm clothes, food, drinkable water, and medicines.

Unfortunately, these necessities are becoming increasingly scarce. Especially in the areas of the conflict. Scarcity of drinkable water and fresh nutritional food are increasing the risk for diseases to spread. Tuberculosis is on the rise, and the environmental damages that the conflict is causing are also becoming sources of illness for the people living nearby.

EU member states are making great efforts to end the conflict. Helping the victims must be part of this objective. Therefore, a proposal from the Foreign Affairs Council to increase Europe’s humanitarian aid to Ukraine would be the most sensible thing to do.

Up to now, the EU has earmarked €95 million for humanitarian aid and shipped over 85 tons of relief supplies to Ukraine. This help is greatly complementing the relief efforts of other international and civil society organisations; like Caritas, which is giving direct help to some 40,000 of the most deprived victims of the conflict. 

An increase in the EU’s humanitarian aid package is necessary. The proposal of the Foreign Affairs Council should be approved and implemented as soon as possible. 

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