Ukraine : we help the population of Donetsk on the ground

19 April 2021

Vladimir Petrov, engineer and Head of Mission of the Luxembourg Red Cross in Ukraine, was in Luxembourg last week. He talks about the situation near the front line in Donetsk, where he has been based for five years.

– What are the needs of the population in Donetsk?

– With the recent resumption of hostilities, we fear that the situation is returning to a state of emergency, with an increase in the number of wounded. Apart from the Luxembourg Red Cross and our German Red Cross colleagues, there are very few other humanitarian organisations  in Donetsk.

The primary health needs are still immense, although we have already distributed medical equipment, renovated health centres and trained health workers.

– What are your missions in Ukraine?

– My missions evolved over the past 5 years. In the beginning, we provided emergency shelter for people forced to flee the war in Donbass. Then we worked in the field of resilience and for the health of people who had no access to the necessary care in the area.

Recently, we have been supporting the response to the coronavirus pandemic, with the 3rd wave having the potential to do great damage here. As explained, the primary health needs of the population are very high, but the existing health system is far too fragile to meet them.

– What made you decide to go to Ukraine with the Luxembourg Red Cross?

– I am a civil engineer and I have worked as a humanitarian officer for many years. The Luxembourg Red Cross’ International Aid unit, which specialises in construction and emergency shelter, was a perfect match for me.

As far as Ukraine is concerned, this is my longest field mission. But the Luxembourg Red Cross might be there for a long time, because of the great humanitarian needs. The advantage of being based so close to the front line for five years is that I can understand the security issues and have access to many health facilities. The health workers and locals are familiar with the Luxembourg Red Cross, which has shown its professionalism over the years. We are welcomed with open arms.