The partnership between Vostok SOS and Libereco
Our partner organisation Vostok SOS (East SOS) has been Libereco’s main Ukrainian partner since its establishment in 2015. Vostok SOS is recognized as a non-profit foundation in Ukraine and grew out of an initiative launched in 2014 to help internally displaced persons from the embattled and occupied territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The founders of the organisation are themselves internally displaced persons from the occupied territories of Luhansk, Donetsk and Crimea.
The organisation quickly expanded its humanitarian aid to the war zone itself. It was among the first to bring humanitarian aid to the most remote villages on the then only consolidating line of contact, even at the height of the war in 2014/2015. Vostok SOS has a broad network in the Luhansk region and is able to deliver humanitarian aid even under the most difficult and changing conditions.
For eight years Vostok SOS and Libereco have been working closely together
- In 2014 and 2015, donations were used to buy food and medicine for people in need in eastern Ukraine.
- In 2016, we financed an ambulance for the outpatient clinic in the village of Trokhizbenka (Luhansk region). Until the destruction of a large part of the village by the Russian invasion in the end of February 2022, the village and the outpatient clinic were located directly on the front line. We also provided the grammar school in Verkhnotoretske with handicraft materials, IT equipment and Christmas gifts for the children.
- In 2017, we supported a children’s festival in Sievierodonetsk, the regional capital of the Luhansk region, as well as the creation of five safe creative spaces for children in the frontline area. In cooperation with local initiatives and dedicated parents, Vostok SOS has established several children and youth centers.
- Since 2018, we have been collecting donations for our Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund, which we have created together with Vostok SOS. In recent years, this has enabled us to provide targeted support to children, the elderly, the sick, and people with disabilities quickly, individually, and in line with their needs.
- At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Libereco and Vostok SOS supported medical care, covid prevention measures and psychological support for medical staff in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine. Together, we also published a report on the situation of civil society in the Luhansk region.
- In October 2020, the largest forest fires in decades occurred in the war zone in eastern Ukraine. Vostok SOS established an emergency hotline, supported evacuations, provided humanitarian, legal, and psychological assistance, distributed food, clothing, blankets, tools, and hygiene products in fire-affected villages in the Luhansk region.
In recent years, Libereco and Vostok SOS have increasingly specialised in bringing aid to places where little or no other aid reaches. In this way, we fill gaps that large aid organizations do not address – even if this is time-consuming and involves a lot of research and needs analyses. In the current humanitarian crisis, Vostok SOS is returning to its core competencies from the beginning of the war in 2014 and so are we.
What Vostok SOS is currently doing
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, Vostok SOS has been mainly involved in evacuations and emergency medical and humanitarian aid. Together with Libereco, Vostok SOS coordinates access to help for Ukrainian (internally) displaced persons. In doing so, the organization leverages its extensive experience in providing humanitarian assistance in difficult and dangerous situations to maintain support in the most threatening circumstances that are now occurring. Vostok SOS maintains several telephone hotlines for war victims and internally displaced persons, assists with evacuations, and organises temporary shelters.
Due to the shelling of Sievierodonetsk and Kyjv, most of Vostok SOS staff and in some cases their families had to be evacuated. The organisation has set up a temporary base in Uzhhorod, located right on the border with Slovakia. From there, the team is providing emergency aid to alleviate serious humanitarian problems caused by the war.
Currently the main areas of focus of Vostok SOS are humanitarian, legal and psychosocial assistance to people in Ukraine, especially in the frontline areas in the east of the country. Vostok SOS is also intensively involved in projects on social dialogue, human rights monitoring in the conflict area, and the promotion of civic engagement. The organisation currently employs 36 people, in addition to a large number of volunteers throughout the country, which quickly grows to several hundred in emergency situations.