The Legal Development Network helps affected communities overcome a humanitarian catastrophe
Written by: Halyna Kolesnyk, the Communications Manager of the Legal Development Network
In April 2022, members of the liberated or close to hostilities communities of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy oblasts received more than 140 tons of in-kind humanitarian aid. Its provision was made possible within the #StandWithUkraine Humanitarian Response Program, which is implemented by the Legal Development Network in partnership with the Ukrainian Paralegals Association, the Ukrainian Education Platform, and with the support of People In Need.
All this in-kind humanitarian aid (food and hygiene products) is provided in a targeted manner. First, the volunteers involved in the program find out the needs of the community members. And then, after receiving the aid, they distribute it. This approach is aimed at minimizing the risk of corruption and directing assistance to those who need it most.
«Even during the temporary occupation, we saw that food delivered to Konotop as humanitarian aid was on the market and sold at higher prices. They were also found in the refrigerators of school cafeterias. Targeted assistance helps to avoid this when volunteers report to whom and what they have provided,» – says Valentyna Volik, Program coordinator in Sumy oblast.
Paralegals (the LDN’s partner organization – Ukrainian Paralegals Association) have a similar approach to distributing humanitarian aid. They take care of providing the most necessary to the affected residents of the communities of Sumy, Kyiv, and Chernihiv oblasts, with whom they personally contacted, worked, and provided support even before the full-scale russian war against Ukraine.
More than 25,000 residents from 25 settlements in different oblasts have already received assistance. However, its distribution does not stop. In most of the communities that volunteers are trying to reach and which have been temporarily occupied, people have been left without the necessities. This is due to the fact that russian troops looted shops and looted en masse. At the same time, due to destroyed roads and bridges, the speed of delivery of necessary assistance to certain communities is significantly slowed down.
«We will take care of some almost completely destroyed districts of Chernihiv and Chernihiv oblast on a permanent basis. People live there in temporary shelters or have moved into surviving houses where they live with other families», – Nataliia Kulikova, Program coordinator in Chernihiv oblast.
Why grassroots justice defenders are implementing the in-kind humanitarian direction tells the executive director of the Legal Development Network, Yevgen Poltenko:
«Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine has provoked a humanitarian catastrophe in many parts of the country. Therefore, even without previous experience in such work, we temporarily undertook to implement this direction. This is a way of responding to the crisis we all have to face today. In addition to the humanitarian direction of our work, we continue to support and strengthen the legal one. The importance of timely legal aid has increased even more in the current environment. For years, LDN has been helping Ukrainian communities to know, use, and shape the law – something we call “legal empowerment. We orient our work around the most pressing needs identified by community members. Before the war, this often involved land, labor, and family issues. Now, the circumstances have been brutally altered. But the need for legal empowerment is as urgent as ever».
«We need to consider a large number of factors that do not depend on us. The situation changes every day. Roads are being destroyed, making it difficult to reach the settlements. Cargos are delayed. We often get less of the resource we hope for. Some settlements we planned to help become temporarily occupied. All this must be responded to quickly and flexibly. And we do our best to help as many people as possible», – Vitalii Okhrimenko, program director of the Legal Development Network.
The project “Minor logistical routes of humanitarian aid for minor communities affected by hostilities” is implemented with the financial support of the Czech humanitarian organization People in Need, within the initiative of SOS Ukraine.
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