Destruction of the last bridge in Severodonetsk necessitates immediate access to aid and safe routes out for trapped civilians
Jessica Wanless, NRC
Global Media Adviser
Advocacy and Media Section, Oslo
Statement by Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, on the situation in Severodonetsk:
“Remaining civilians in Severodonetsk are almost entirely cut off from aid supplies after the destruction of the last bridge into the city. NRC´s partner in eastern Ukraine estimates approximately 500 civilians are still sheltering at the Azot Chemical Plant, facing near-constant bombardment and with almost no opportunity to escape. They are surviving on food distributed by NRC and other aid organizations. But for the past few weeks, regular distributions have been impossible due to the intensified fighting and deteriorating security situation.
“We cannot overstate the seriousness of the current situation for civilians trapped in Severodonetsk and in other towns and cities across Ukraine as a result of this war.
“As the bloody fighting rages on, we call on all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law to allow safe passage for civilians who want to leave the battle zones, safe, unfettered access to aid, and protection for people who are unable, or choose not to, leave.
“Authorities estimate that nearly all civilian infrastructure has been destroyed in Severodonetsk, leaving people without electricity, safe drinking water and contact with the outside world.
“NRC has been working in Severodonetsk since 2014 and had our centre of operations for the east in the city. The escalation of the war in February forced the closure of the office and relocation of all staff to other parts of the country. We continue to provide aid to people in the area with our partners, Luhansk Association of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and Vostok SOS, when fighting allows.”
Facts and figures:
• NRC has been operational in Ukraine since 2014, serving people affected by the war in Ukraine, in particular Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
• NRC Ukraine had 84 national and three international staff members at the end of 2021. Before February 2022, most of NRC Ukraine’s staff were based in Severodonetsk.
• About 800,000 people were displaced by the conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014, while thousands of vulnerable pensioners remained in remote villages near the frontline in Donbas with minimal access to essential services.
• NRC reopened its Ukraine Country Office in Kyiv in May 2022. Since the war escalated, NRC has also opened two area offices in Dnipro and Lviv and a field office in Ternopil.
• Together with our local partners, we have delivered 4,380 hygiene kits, 6,600 emergency food kits, and 1,080 monthly food parcels to people in Luhansk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhia.
• delivered 3,300 monthly food parcels in the Luhansk region, including Severodonetsk, in April 2022. In May 2022, we delivered 480 hygiene kits together with 480 monthly food parcels in the Luhansk region, including Severodonetsk.
• In western Ukraine, NRC is also scaling up, focusing on supporting internally displaced people through legal aid, shelter materials, cash assistance and support provided to communal shelters.
• In early 2022, NRC launched its country programmes in Poland, Romania and Moldova to support refugees seeking safety in the neighbouring countries