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A year without the Arena. BLOG by Rimma Fil



The banality of “how time does fly!” is hardly fit for describing the war. Here the days stretch like rubber, and the worst comes with darkness. These are the features of this war. The reality of the front line villages and districts, which are even hard to be called a “grey zone”. People live here. How do they live? They are scraping by.

The most vulnerable people, who have no place to go, who can not go, are staying here. They are mostly elderly people and large families - people who have found themselves in a difficult situation. However they are made of flesh and blood.

Rinat Akhmetov’s humanitarian aid has always been aimed to such people. It helped to survive the elderly who found themselves without their earned pensions and the mothers without financial allowances.

I can talk about the 24-hour work of the Center around the clock, because the subject is too painful. I can talk about the heroes-volunteers increased the Humanitarian Center outreach at Donbas Arena. How thoroughly each step was thought through, because taking each step during the war in Donetsk was like walking on a minefield. One word, one act, one look ...

I remember how volunteer battalions blocked our help. How our convoys were driving in the winter under the crossfire. We struggled daily for the opportunity to help. You know, when you want to reach a goal, you look for an opportunity, when you don’t want to do it, you look for an excuse. We really wanted to help. Therefore, we went under fire, in the heat and cold. And our avidity overcame the madness that was going on around us.

And then, in the morning of February 28, people with weapons came to the Arena. The similar people appeared simultaneously in other fixed distribution centers of the uncontrolled territory. The delivery of assistance was terminated.

We learned about what happened from our beneficiaries - there was no connection with our employees. The fixed distribution centers were blocked all in one. Hundreds of thousands of elderly and disabled people, young mothers were left without humanitarian assistance.

At the press conference, we immediately called things by their proper names, told about the real situation. We appealed to the OSCE special monitoring mission in Ukraine, to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, to the subgroup on humanitarian issues of the Contact group on the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas with an urgent request to pay attention to the humanitarian situation in Donbas and the violation of human rights.

At the same time, we informed that the Center was ready to resume its operation in an uncontrolled territory, once the distribution center and the delivery points were unlocked.

No unblocking happened. People were shocked. The “authorities” tried to hide their indignation with miserable excuses about the products quality. But those who had been receiving help during the conflict, understood perfectly well that the quality was impeccable. And all the international visitors, without exception, noted a clear, like a clock, logistics.

But at times, common sense is confronted with incomprehensible factors.

The Arena never opened again, the help was no longer issued, and people believed and routinely called the hotline to find out when. We will never know how many elderly people could still be alive if...

I understand that is you are well-fed and prosperous, who have not experienced the horror of war, misfortunes and lack of money, it is difficult to understand what it means not to receive a products package on time. And with every single package, people had Hope that they would survive yet another month.

Since February 28, 2017, the Center continues its work only in the territory controlled by Ukrainian government. Until now...