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Grigory Koldunov, Director of Humanitarian Center: «One could tell that people really need help from Rinat Akhmetov from the way they are waiting for it.» Interview for


Most people spend New Year holidays time with their families, it is time when they forget about their life’s problems. But the workers of Humanitarian Center of Rinat Akhmetov Foundation have no time for rest: from the very first days of 2015, they are working in normal work mode. And as a result, on January 9 this year's first humanitarian convoy with food aid was sent to Donetsk for the population of the region of miners. The first convoy will deliver 260 tons of food products for civilians. To render as much assistance as possible to the civilians of Donetsk and Lugansk regions is the task that was set by the founder Rinat Akhmetov to the workers of Humanitarian Center.


Obviously, the volume of the work done is impressive. From late August, the humanitarian convoys from Akhmetov delivered to Donbass more than 20 thousand tons of food products. “The activity of Humanitarian Center is so well established that it can be compared with the work of the major logistics companies”, says Grigory Koldunov, Director of Humanitarian Center of Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. This position Grigory Koldunov took up on January 1, 2014, so this current mission to Donetsk for accompanying of humanitarian aid is the first for him.


Grigory Koldunov, Director of Humanitarian Center, told our site about the control of humanitarian aid distribution, quality of food products and his first impressions from the mission to military Donetsk.


  - How many trucks of humanitarian convoy came to Donetsk from Dnepropetrovsk this time?


- 14 loaded trucks left from Dnepropetrovsk in the morning on January 9. By the evening the trucks arrived at Donetsk, to Donbass Arena stadium, where the warehouse of Humanitarian Center is situated. Sugar, flour, cereals which were in the trucks have been unloaded at once in the presence of Vladimir Ruban, Head of Ukrainian "Officer corps”, as well as Ukrainian and international journalists. Today, stickering process will start at the stadium, volunteers of FC Shakhtar will put a sticker "Charity. Not for sale" on each unit of products. Further, the food products will be packaged in sets with the help of the volunteers. On average, each volunteer packs up to 70 packages per day. 500-700 volunteers per day are involved for different works in Humanitarian Center,   including SCM personnel. Then all the humanitarian aid will be distributed between the towns of Donetsk region located in ATO zone.

This convoy can be called significant because this is the first humanitarian convoy in order to form sets for the most vulnerable categories of the adult population. This is first aid that was sent by Humanitarian Center in the new 2015 year.

The following week, another convoy of trucks will deliver food to Mariupol, where the second warehouse of Humanitarian Center is situated and now from where the food products are being distributed to the settlements of Donetsk region that are under the control of Ukraine. Many displaced persons live there and they also need help. Actually, it was Mariupol where the first convoys of Rinat Akhmetov were sent.


- Has this convoy, which was thirteenth, managed to come to the destination without any problems?

- Everything went without any incident. We had a full set of required documents to pass. We informed as much services as possible: the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Defense, State Traffic Police, ATO Headquarters, Regional State Administration, international organizations. Starting from January 12, such humanitarian convoys will travel to Donetsk region on a daily basis! The goods will be delivered to Donetsk and Mariupol, to the central points, where food packages are being formed.

- What can you say about the first trip to ATO zone on behalf of Humanitarian Center? What most impressed you?


- Most of all I was struck by the attitude of those people who helped to Humanitarian Center and those who received assistance. First I visited the main point of humanitarian aid distribution at Donbass Arena stadium. I saw the work of the volunteers of FC Shakhtar, who were unloading trucks and making food packages. People want to help each other indeed. And they do it regardless of the fact that now the weather conditions are not very comfortable: when it is -200 C outside, it is rather cold in the warehouse premises.


Every weekday people in different regions of Donetsk and different settlements of Donetsk and Lugansk regions stand in line for humanitarian aid. The Humanitarian Center has about 300 such points in Donbass. They are happy that they continue to get food and children sets. Many regard with favour the fact that due to the situation at the end of December (it was the time when the battalions blocked the passage of humanitarian aid – an author's note) there are more fish cans than meat ones in food packages, though it was planned vice versa and it would be more logical for the winter period for reasons of caloric value. And such recommendations we got from UN World Food Program.


In many ways, the work of the Humanitarian Center depends on timely execution of orders and deliveries; sometimes we pick up all remainders of products. Therefore the most important thing is to keep periodicity. And if for some reason the cycle is broken, then, accordingly, the whole "staircase" is immediately broken, and we must avoid this.


- What else does the food set of Humanitarian Center include?


- It includes flour, sugar, cereals, pasta, canned meat, canned fish, sunflower oil, corn, condensed milk, biscuits. This food set is balanced according to caloric value, fat content and vitamins content. There are standards calculated for each person, and the food set of Humanitarian Center meets them. If there is no disruption of food product delivery, from the next month in the package will be increase the number of canned meat and the food set can be considered as a food set that best meets the standards.



- And who monitors distributing of humanitarian aid to vulnerable people, as they need it very much?


- Monitoring is carried out directly by the workers of Humanitarian Center. There is a procedure according to which the control should be carried out in order a food set to be given to exactly to those people from  those target categories, who are desperately need it. Data on each "charity recipient" are recorded in a shareable data base, which are being kept by the workers of Humanitarian Center. Besides people are given tickets for receiving the next food set in 4 weeks. And this way we have the accumulated statistics, there is a database of unique users and we know every person who comes for the first time to receive a food set. That is the way the Humanitarian Center established a system of distributing humanitarian aid. The system works. After I visited one of the points of distributing sets for expectant mothers, I personally made sure of it. In addition to the food sets for the persons entitled to benefits and sets for children less than 2 years old, till the end of January Humanitarian Center gives "sets for pregnant women" to those expectant mothers whose births are planned during the period up to  January, 31. And the people are happy, and transparency is ensured, we can report for every set of humanitarian aid.


- How else is transparency of the work of Humanitarian Center ensured and, in particular, the work of humanitarian convoy?


- If speak about this particular convoy, the platform, from which the convoy trucks were set, was open to all comers. As always, we made no secret. This was done to ensure that all the interested parties, in addition to those services we had informed the day before, could come and see the contents of the trucks and get known the route of travelling. Before sending this year's first convoy, the contents of the trucks and supporting documentation have been checked by representatives of the battalion Dnepr-1 in the presence of journalists. The cargo arrived at the point of its destination; it means that there were no claims to the cargo.


- What can you say about the quality of products delivered to ATO zone?

- I'll say this: there are rather strict requirements for the food sets relating to humanitarian aid. They have been developed by the international organizations. They cover requirements from the caloric value till presence of vitamins and fats, as I have already mentioned. First, all of these requirements Humanitarian Center of Rinat Akhmetov fulfils unquestioningly. Secondly, all the food products are confirmed by certificates of quality. Thirdly, the shelf life is maintained for each item of products.


- A question for you as for a  new man: How do you think the scale of work done by Humanitarian Center can be called impressive?


- Of course! Nobody in Ukraine purchases such amount of food products for humanitarian purposes (and it is 8 000 tons per month!)  and with such regularity as it does Humanitarian Center by order of Rinat Akhmetov and under his personal supervision, for his countrymen, the civilian population of Donbass. And one could tell that people really need help from Rinat Akhmetov from the way they are waiting for it.


For reference: the humanitarian convoys of Rinat Akhmetov regularly deliver food and children kits to Donbass. The assistance has already been received by displaced persons and residents of more than 60 districts and settlements of Donetsk and Lugansk regions – as of January, 8, totally 1 406 906 free food packages have been distributed. Also Humanitarian Center during its work gave 53 572 children sets to young residents of Donetsk, Makeyevka, Khartsyzsk, Yasinovatoya, Shakhtersk, Yenakievo, Mospino and other settlements. In addition, 813 expectant mothers received aid in the form of 813 "sets for pregnant women" at Donbass Arena.