Today the European Foundations Centre (EFC) opened its Annual Conference in Brussels, and I had the pleasure to meet Natalia Yemchenko, a member of the Supervisory Board of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, and Roman Rubchenko, Director of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. They were attending the conference to present an album of photographs: ”Donbass and Civilians”.
The EFC unites more than 500 philanthropic organisations in Europe. The topic of the 29th Conference (this year it is held as a part of the European Year of Culture) is “Culture Matters: connecting citizens, uniting communities”. The event includes a series of exciting exhibitions, topical sessions and thought-provoking site visits.
In her intervention, Nataliya Yemchenko focused on drawing the attention of the world community to one of the largest armed conflicts of the XXI century, which is taking place today in the heart of Europe.
The photo book “Donbass and Civilians” was presented during the session “A matter of culture – Civil society and democratic dialogue in Central and Eastern Europe”. The unique edition was published under the auspices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation: “The book is about the war and the civilians of Donbass. 11 stories about the fate of the most unprotected people: the children, who were injured, and the old people, who were trapped in the front line conflict zone. All these people have managed to survive thanks to the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. The stories of the Civilians are so shocking, you cannot keep silent about them. We want more people to know about them to tell them the truth about the events in Donbass”, said Natalia Yemchenko presenting the book.
The UNO reports 4.4 million victims of the war in eastern Ukraine. Donbass is recognised as one of the most heavily mined places on the planet. The UNICEF reports that 220 thousand Donbass children are forced to attend schools in the war zone.
“The children risk being wounded or killed every day, by land mine blasts or shells. They study in buildings with bullet holes in the walls and windows with sandbags, where bomb shelters are equipped in the basements, and fragments of shells lie in the school yards. The armed conflict in Ukraine has been waged now for more than four years. We cannot remain silent or pretend that it does not concern us. They say war has no face and no voice. It has – the voices of the Civilians, who suffer in Donbass. We want them to be heard in Europe and worldwide”, declared Yemchenko.
The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation is the largest charitable organisation in Ukraine. It is the largest personal initiative in the east of the country. The Foundation has succeeded in saving more than a million civilians in the East of Ukraine since 2014. The largest programme of the Foundation is the Humanitarian Center, which has been helping the most vulnerable members of the population of Donetsk and Lugansk regions for more than four years. Approximately 12 million grocery sets have been given close to the line of contact, and these help people survive in this war torn region. Over 750 settlements are served with this aid.
The war in Donbass in the East of Ukraine is in its fourth year; there is daily fighting, with military and civilian casualties. The war takes away people’s homes, their loved ones and their future. In the centre of Europe, in the 21st century. Please help us to raise awareness!
Publiée par Supporting the Community in Donbass sur vendredi 2 juin 2017
Since February 28, 2017, the activity of the Humanitarian Center in the territories of Donbass not controlled by Ukraine has been blocked. 500 thousand people have been left without help. The Center continues to support the residents of the “gray zone” and internally displaced persons.
Saving lives is the basic task that Rinat Akhmetov has set for the Foundation, and Nataliya Yemchenko – herself displaced from her home in Donbass – is a tireless ambassador for the organisation trying to raise awareness of the plight faced by civilians displaced by the conflict.