Help and rescue: Fifth anniversary of founding the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center
6 August marks five years since the launch of the largest charitable mission in Ukraine and the most ambitious program of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation – Humanitarian Center. All these years, the neediest residents of Donbas receive aid within the program. And aid continues to be provided in the hottest spots in the region. Tetiana Kukhotska, Head of Project Development of the Foundation, told this at a press conference in Kyiv.
“When trouble came to Donbas, Rinat Akhmetov set the task of helping the civilians with whatever everything possible. During the first couple of months of the conflict, the Foundation evacuated and resettled more than 10 thousand people in a safe area. At the same time, people were provided with medicines, food, clothes,” said Tetiana Kukhotska.
She described in detail the chronology of the Foundation’s work in the early days of the armed conflict and how the Humanitarian Center was established:
“The evacuation of people continued and, at the same time, the first columns with humanitarian aid from Rinat Akhmetov went to Donbas. Thousands of tons of food and medicine on hundreds of trucks were continuously delivered to the conflict zone. The geography of aid delivery constantly extended. At the same time, the Foundation studied and analyzed the situation and needs of civilians. Having received these data, Rinat Akhmetov ordered to establish the Humanitarian Center. All resources, human and tangible, were used to provide aid in Donbas.
Today, Rinat Akhmetov’s aid is delivered to 94 settlements in the frontline zone and along the contact line. Survival kits are delivered to the residents of 87 villages and towns by mobile delivery teams of the Foundation. In another seven cities and towns in the region, Rinat Akhmetov’s aid is distributed at stationary issuing points.
During the five years of operation, the Humanitarian Center saved the lives of more than a million people on both sides of the contact line. More than 12.3 million survival kits, i.e. 134 thousand tons of products, were delivered to people living in the conflict zone.
“These are 6,700 large-tonnage trucks loaded to their maximum capacity. If putting this number of trucks in a line, it would be a column more than 90 kilometers long,” specified Kukhotska.
In addition, the Foundation conducted a large qualitative study together with the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, due to which a scientific approach in the field of providing aid was developed.
“In all settlements of Donbas, sociological polls were conducted and, on the basis of these data, the Foundation conditionally divided them into three groups depending on the severity of the situation in them. It’s clear that the aid was delivered to where people could not survive without it in the first place. They hid in basements without light, without water, without food, and our volunteers, in spite of the shelling, made their way to these people and delivered them the most necessary things,” said the Head of Project Development of the Foundation.
An invaluable contribution to the creation of a humanitarian map of the needs in Donbas was made by the Foundation’s hotline specialists, who daily received over a thousand calls in the first days of military operations. According to Kukhotska, more than 30 thousand requests were received and processed in the course of the first two months of the armed conflict. At the same time, 70% of callers said that they suffered from hunger and asked to bring them food. All of them were heard and received help.
The Foundation still continues to study the situation in Donbas. Studies show that civilians in Donbas living in the “grey zone” still have an urgent need for food.
In turn, Pablo Mateu, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representative told how he first witnessed the work of the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center: “I was just assigned to Ukraine, went to Donbas, and in every settlement we passed through, we met large crowds of people. I stopped and asked the people what they were waiting for. And everyone told me that they were waiting in a queue for the aid that Rinat Akhmetov had brought.”
Pablo Mateu also explained why Rinat Akhmetov’s aid remained extremely urgent:
“Unfortunately, many international organizations have left Eastern Ukraine. The more valuable for the residents is the support of Rinat Akhmetov and the greater the role of his Foundation is in solving the problems that people face along the contact line.”
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representative, the need for aid remains extremely high in Eastern Ukraine as of today. People still need food, therefore “it is very important that the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation continues its work.”
“Today, the Foundation delivers aid along the entire 427-kilometer line of demarcation,” Tetiana Kukhotska confirmed Mateu’s words.
Within the framework of the fifth anniversary of founding the Humanitarian Center, a unique event will take place in Mariupol, namely a public presentation of the work of the distribution center, which is the “heart” of the Humanitarian Center. Representatives of international organizations and the public will be invited to the event and they will learn how logistics for the delivery of humanitarian goods is calculated, how the product quality is checked, how volunteers work, what makes the center’s operation unique and much more. In addition, an exhibition of works by children participating in the Foundation’s Peaceful Summer to Children of Donbas Project will be opened in the center.