As the European Parliament returns from its winter recess for the first plenary of 2019, the war in the East of Ukraine is approaching its 5th anniversary. The conflict in Donbass has been going on since April 2014, and efforts to broker peace have constantly stumbled.
The conflict is not front of mind in European foreign policy. But the fate of the residents of Donbass should never be forgotten; they still need humanitarian assistance, particularly at this difficult time of year in the depths of winter. 6.5 million people, have had their peaceful lives disrupted by the war; their way of life shattered, families torn apart, homes destroyed, friends and relatives killed and injured.
The main goal of the photographic exhibition in Strasbourg is to draw the attention of Europe’s Parliamentarians to the tragedy of Donbass, and the outstanding humanitarian work of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. Coming from Donbass himself, the leading Ukrainian businessman Rinat Akhmetov understands and empathises with the hardships faced by the region’s residents who have been caught up in the crossfire of the conflict.
The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation began delivering aid 5 years ago and continues to do so today. More than a million people have been saved from the beginning of the conflict in 2014. Over 12 million food packages have been delivered to more than 750 cities and villages in the East of Ukraine, and thanks to these packages people who live along the contact line survive.
The Exhibition in the Parliament is being hosted by Charles Tannock MEP and presents black-and-white collages from the photo album “Donbass and Civilians”, colour photographs of the destroyed houses and their inhabitants, and video films of children who have seen the effects of the war with their own eyes. The exhibition runs throughout this plenary week in the Winston Churchill Building of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Also present in the Parliament in Strasbourg to give a first hand account of the work of the Foundation are Roman Rubchenko the Chief Executive Officer, Yuliia Malich the Foundation’s Manager of External Relations, and Nataliya Yemchenko, a member of the Supervisory Board of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation.
“The stories of the victims of the conflict in the Donbass should be spoken out loud, heard, preserved, understood, and told,” said Nataliya Yemchenko. “Even better they should be shown.”
“Today, only a few people know how these people actually live. Troubles do not become less, but there is a terrible habit. Those who live in a conflict zone get used to the fact that someone is shooting. Those who live far away grow accustomed to the fact that something constantly happens in the Donbass, but life goes on. It is very scary when people become inured to a state of war. Rinat Akhmetov helps civilians with food and medical care. And he is waging a daily struggle against the indifference of Ukrainians and Europe to the problems facing the civilian community of Donbass,” she went on to say.