Journalists of “Donetsk Dialogue”, a program on “Donbas Public TV”, are analyzing the work of volunteer and public organizations which render help to IDPs in Ukraine and to those who are left on the occupied territory. This issue of the program is going to present “DonbasSOS” initiative in more detail.
Hard work lasts for 12 hours a day behind the door with an optimistic poster “Love will save everyone”.
“We answer telephone calls, register people for evacuation, and transfer this information to evacuators who, together with other people, solve the problem in the ATO zone. A lot of people have stayed on the occupied territory; according to the UNO data, 1.4 million people have left their homes. The situation is difficult for people whose lives are broken by the conflict in the Donbas”, says Antonina, a “Donbas SOS” volunteer.
Oleksandr Horbatko, chief coordinator of NGO “Donbas SOS” says that the time and the events in the country made him start volunteering. The first impulse was clashes in Donetsk, in March 2014.
“We tried to help people — victims of the clashes, those who were prosecuted by the police and the Security Service of Ukraine. When the hostilities started, we were hunted for and had to leave too. At that time some members of our initiative were captured and were kept in the basements of Donetsk Security Service and in Makiivka. Before the Revolution of Dignity and after it, the country was in collapse. I wanted to help the state at this difficult moment, to feel the help of the civil society which had appeared in the country and started developing”, says Oleksandr Horbatko.
The situation got worse, and the tasks the organization faced became more challenging. The Donbas asked to help IDPs
“There was a flow of people from the east, and we started helping them. Lots of people offered help; they offered houses and flats to IDPs, and the majority of them were pro-Ukrainian. That was the beginning”, says Oleksandr.
“Those people need accommodation; they need humanitarian aid and jobs. The people would like to work, and thanks to international grants they may launch their own business”, comments Olena, a volunteer.
There are new challenges today. It is required to work in several directions at the same time. Now they have a hotline to respond faster; however, the main thing is the team which is ready to work.
In order to understand IDPs' problems, one should imagine oneself in their place. This is how one of the volunteers explains her presence in the team.
About 20 % of calls ask for help on the occupied territory. They are not left without attention either.
There is another initiative they are working on — “Books to the East” as their desire to help people is huge. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about officials.
“Representatives of international organizations and journalists come. They are interested in our work. We present reports and statistics to international organizations which maintain our hotline. However, I have not seen any officials here”, says Olena.
“Laws regulating IDPs' status are not properly observed. It is about accommodation which should be provided by the state, and some economic aspects. Only the Cabinet of Ministers regulates IDPs' problems: it gives them the status and some material aid. I know that human rights activists are doing a tremendous work as legislative initiators. In Georgia, for example, there are a lot of IDPs who settled down not far from the demarcation line because of family ties and unwillingness of people to go to some other parts of the country. I think we should do the same in our country. We initiate the creation of a separate state body which will deal with IDPs' problems. We understand that the conflict will last for a long time, not a year or two. When people call us, we ask them if there are going to go back. Our hotline calls confirm that the majority of the people who have left their homes in the Donbas are not going to go back even when the war is over”, says Oleksandr.
The farther from the capital, the more urgent the problems are. Children are in the focus of attention.
Both, IDPs and people on the occupied territory should feel themselves able citizens of Ukraine. Unfortunately, it is only volunteers who are doing their best to make it possible.
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