Donetsk, 18 July: This afternoon unidentified armed men stormed into the office of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, and stole three vehicles marked with the organisation’s logo. The international humanitarian medical organisation decries this unacceptable attack and condemns the abuse of humanitarian vehicles.
“We are severely alarmed by the abuse of our vehicles and logos by armed men,” says Stéphane Prévost, MSF Country Director in Ukraine. “If clearly marked MSF vehicles are used by armed men or simply associated with any of the conflict parties, it could lead to serious confusion, compromising our ability to provide medical assistance to those who need it.”
As an independent and neutral humanitarian organisation, MSF does not take sides in any conflict. No weapons are allowed in MSF vehicles, which are all clearly indicated with ‘no arms’ signs. In Ukraine, our teams are focused solely on responding to medical humanitarian needs.
“One of the MSF vehicles contained medical supplies for treating 50 wounded people which now are denied delivery to medical facilities that need it,” says Prévost. “Without these vehicles, MSF’s medical activities in the region are compromised.”
In response to ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine, MSF has expanded support to over-stretched hospitals in the area. MSF has provided urgently needed medical supplies to hospitals in the east of the country, most recently in Slavyansk, Luhansk, Kramatorsk, Dimitrov, Snizhnie, Artemovsk and Krasnoarmeysk. All donations of materials, now totalling approximately four tonnes, have been made based on the needs identified by the chief medical staff of these hospitals.
MSF has been working in Donetsk since 2011, running a programme to treat patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis within the regional penitentiary system.
MSF is an international medical humanitarian organisation working under the principles of neutrality, independence and impartiality in more than 70 countries around the world. MSF does not take sides in any conflict, is independent of all political, military and corporate agenda, and provides medical care to people on the basis of need alone, regardless of gender, race, religion or political affiliation.
Since mid-May 2014, MSF has donated kits for 1530 war-wounded to different hospitals in the Donetsk region, and kits for 400 war-wounded in the Luhansk region.