On 4 September, the first convoy of relief supplies crossed the line of contact and reached the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Swiss Humanitarian Aid, which is a division of the FDFA, is bringing supplies to both sides of the line of contact, in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The supplies include chemicals and equipment for water treatment, medical equipment for hospitals and antigen tests for pandemic control.
The first convoy left from Mariupol on the Black Sea. A total of 144 lorries in five convoys will transport – among other things – some 2,300 tonnes of chemicals and laboratory equipment to the conflict zone by mid-September. The chemicals are to be used to produce clean drinking water for around 4m people on both sides of the line of contact. Since 2015, the Voda Donbasa waterworks has been supported by Switzerland, covering just under 50% of its annual productive resources. In addition, Switzerland is continuing to supply medical equipment to support hospitals along the line of contact that are providing basic healthcare for the local population.
Based on the requirements issued, a list was drawn up in close cooperation with the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) and the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) of supplies that Switzerland is able to provide to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The relief shipment includes 30 ventilators provided by the Swiss Armed Forces Pharmacy. In addition, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is providing 1.5 million antigen tests. Before assembling the medical supplies – worth CHF 9 million in total – it was clarified that they would not be needed for the Swiss population. The timing of the relief shipment coincides with signs of a renewed wave of the pandemic taking hold in eastern Ukraine.
A team of six specialists from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) was also part of the convoy, in order to ensure on arrival a fair distribution of aid according to humanitarian principles for the benefit of the civilian population on both sides of the line of contact. This is Switzerland's 13th shipment of aid to eastern Ukraine since 2015 and its largest to date. Apart from Switzerland, only the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN are delivering humanitarian relief to the disputed territories in eastern Ukraine.
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