At the end of July, two members of the Libereco board travelled to Eastern Ukraine. The aim of the trip was to intensify contacts with our partner organisation Vostok SOS, to develop ideas for future projects and to get to know their work in Eastern Ukraine directly. We conducted three workshops in the region. Together with Ukrainian helpers and international volunteers we also distributed humanitarian aid in the so-called grey zone over the course of six days. We also visited the children’s centres that we have been able to support thanks to your donations over the past months.
Background: The "grey zone" refers to areas in the immediate vicinity of the front line that is formally under Ukrainian control. However, sometimes both armies are positioned there. Even more than four years after the outbreak of the war, shelling continues to strike in areas of the grey zone. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) counted up to 80 explosions alone in one day in the zone. Civilians are still dying and, according to the UN, over 3000 civilians have died since the outbreak of the war in spring 2014. It is estimated that between 7000 and 9000 civilians have also been injured.
The situation for children in the “grey zone” remains particularly difficult. According to the UN, more than 500,000 children and teenagers live in the conflict zone. Many of them are traumatised, have sleep and development disorders, and additionally suffer from the stress of their parents.
With your donations it has been possible to support children and young people who live directly on the frontline in Eastern Ukraine. Together with local initiatives and committed parents, Vostok SOS has founded several children and youth centres. In these safe and creative spaces, children and teenagers can exchange ideas, develop, play and laugh together.
During our visit to children’s and youth centres, for which we collected donations last December, Libereco members Imke and Marco were able to talk to children, parents and educators and get an idea of their situation.
A longer report about the current situation in the Donbas and how the people live in the “grey zone” can be found here.