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A year without the “Arena of Mercy”


Exactly one year ago, on February 28, the work of not only the logistic center of Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center at Donbas Arena, but also all the fixed delivery centers of humanitarian aid was blocked both in Donetsk and the region. Later, the activity of the Center on the whole of uncontrolled territory was prohibited. Because of this, about 500 thousand of the citizens can not receive assistance which is extremely important for them. They need it so much.

Until the summer of 2014, Donbas Arena was a sports and entertainment center, proudly bearing the title of the most beautiful stadium in Europe, and with the outbreak of hostilities everything that happened there has acquired new meanings. The main logistics center of the humanitarian mission was organized at the stadium, and the city residents called it the “Arena of Mercy”. The products were delivered and survival kits were formed here. Tens of thousands of civilians who needed those product kits came in flocks to Donbas Arena.

The safety of both the beneficiaries and the volunteers have always been the number one priority in the Center’s activity. Therefore, starting on day one the work on “Donbas Arena” was organized as the most qualitative and systematic.

“The volunteers, working day and night, understood how important their support is for those who are on the brink of survival,” says Ihor Khadzhynov, head of the Humanitarian Center’s hotline. “Donetsk residents admitted that only such support helps them to survive. It inspired and stimulated our work – to do something that as many people as possible were not be left face to face with the disaster. When our work was blocked, our hotline became really hot because of the calls amount. People who could no longer expect any help from anywhere could not understand how they would be able to cope with the difficulties on their own.”

Many can not remember those dramatic events for Donetsk residents without tears.

“I remember the day of February 28, when they banned the delivery of humanitarian aid. I got a call from a friend who were sobbing violently,” a pensioner Iryna Pokalenko, a resident of Donetsk says. “I had a coupon for getting help on March 5, but I immediately realized that I would not get anything. Together with others, I came to Donbas Arena several days in a row hoping that suddenly they would issue the products again. But all the volunteers have left it, all the people we knew so well, they were already like our family members.”

About half a million elderly, disabled people and children have been left without humanitarian assistance these days. Some of them cross the demarcation line to receive medications and products in the territory controlled by Ukrainian government. However, everybody does not have such opportunities, of course. Therefore, people hope that one day they will get some help...