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The real heroes are the humanitarian workers – says EU Commissioner

Bakhmut, Ukraine, 20 February 2017 – Announcing an additional package of 18 millon Euros, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, said the EU will continue to support populations most affected by the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. The EU Commissioner was speaking after visiting School No. 1 in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, one of the schools where the EU, in partnership with UNICEF, implements programmes which support education and the psychosocial wellbeing of children and youth in conflict-affected areas of eastern Ukraine.

“Humanitarian workers are the real heroes on the ground. Today I saw in real time how schools play an active role in communities affected by conflicts. I saw that education can be life-saving and that in conflicts education can help retain a sense of normalcy especially for children.”

Eastern Ukraine has seen an ongoing conflict for the last three years. Currently, 1 million children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance - nearly double the number this time last year, due to the continued fighting and the steady deterioration of life. Some 1.7 million people have been internally displaced, and many families have lost their incomes, social benefits and access to healthcare, while the price of living has sharply risen.

“Ukraine is not alone, the EU stands firmly behind Ukraine and will continue to support the populations affected by the conflict. We know the solution is not humanitarian aid and we call on all parties to respect the Minsk agreement,” said the Commissioner.

The additional funding, he said, will go towards health and education and will benefit affected populations on both sides of the contact line, in both government and non -government controlled areas.

At the school, the Commissioner was welcomed by a presentation of the “Caravai,” the traditional Ukrainian bread and also watched music and sport performances. He participated in a Life Skills lesson, one of the programmes offered with support from the EU.

Since August 2015, schools in eastern Ukraine have been participating in the “Education in Emergencies" and “Children of Peace” programmes supported by the European Commission and UNICEF. The "Education in Emergencies" programme is ensuring that 25,000 children on both sides of the contact line in Donetsk and Luhansk regions have access to a safe learning environment through the rehabilitation of schools and kindergartens, the provision of educational and early development materials, and psychosocial support.

The “Children of Peace” programme on the other hand, reached 174,000 children and adolescents in Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions with life skills education and over 200,000 children and their parents with psychosocial support.

“With this support, children and adolescents developed critical life skills such as clear communication, empathy, cooperation, conflict prevention and conflict resolution, respect for human rights and gender, and helped children live peacefully within both host and returnee communities. We are grateful for this support,” said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.



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