This is the second UN-organized convoy to pass through the Novotroitske crossing since it reopened for the delivery of humanitarian cargo just over a week ago.
The crossing is currently the only one operational for the delivery of humanitarian aid along the line of contact. Since 24 February it was closed for the humanitarian movement of goods due to security concerns.
“The opening is welcome as needs remain very high with nearly 1.7 million people in need of assistance in areas not controlled by the government of Donetsk and Luhansk,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the United Nations Humanitarian Office ( OCHA).
The first delivery took place on April 15, when five trucks crossed with 18 tons of COVID-19 supplies in the non-government controlled area of Donetsk (NGCA).
Restrictions on the provision of aid
“Since March last year, we have seen an almost complete closure of civilian crossings on the contact line due to the restrictions of COVID-19,” Mr. Laerke told reporters in Geneva.
“For humanitarian deliveries, only this crossing point was available, where we had four or five,” he added.
The recent increase in hostilities along the “line of contact” after seven months of relative calm following the July 2020 ceasefire has also resulted in greater difficulties and security risks for those forced to cross the contact line to access essential services.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that people have resorted to the uncontrolled Ukrainian-Russian crossing point, which can be subject to administrative penalties and legal challenges, as well as incurring high travel costs.
The restrictions on access to areas not controlled by the government have “a direct impact on the ability of the United Nations and our humanitarian partners to help those affected,” Laerke said.
The current COVID-19 situation in the country means that needs are “obviously not decreasing but rather increasing,” he continued.
“In March, Ukraine tripled the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide compared to February, so the curve is going up and not down,” explained Mr. Laerke.
“But access isn’t the only challenge. Our 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan for Ukraine requires $ 168 million, but remains severely underfunded at 13%, ”he added.