The United Nations refugee agency said it has “reacted swiftly” to help people forced to flee their homes when the south-eastern Ukrainian town of Mariupol came under rocket fire over the weekend, providing plastic sheeting for shelter construction.
"We provided basic relief items to help the local authorities and victims of this shelling and now we are emptying our stockpiles of emergency supplies to cover the needs as soon as possible," Oldrich Andrysek, regional representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said yesterday.
UNHCR distributed on Saturday and Sunday enough sheeting to help more than 1,000 people whose homes were damaged or destroyed when the strategically important port town came under fire, killing at least 30 people and injuring dozens.
Before handing out the sheeting with local municipal authorities and emergency services officials, the agency conducted a rapid assessment of affected areas and identified many people with urgent needs, particularly older persons, those living with disability, and female-headed households with large numbers of children.
Meanwhile, UNHCR said it is also distributing blankets, thermal clothing and sleeping bags to people lacking heating in their homes. Additionally, blankets, bed linens, towels and thermal clothes have been delivered to hospitals in Mariupol.
In the coming days, UNHCR plans to deliver roofing materials to families whose homes have been damaged in Mariupol, as well as the villages of Sartana and Talakivka. As it stands now, construction materials are in short supply and the sheeting can be used to create a makeshift shelter and cover holes.
Fighting between the Ukrainian armed forces and anti-government combatants has left hundreds of thousands of people displaced. A ceasefire was agreed on in September, but, says the agency, the conflict has flared up again and has been intense in parts of the east in recent days.