The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has announced it will step in to pay electricity bills to avoid water being cut off to 600,000 people in eastern Ukraine. This exceptional move will help people living on both sides of the contact line in the Luhansk region, the ICRC said in a statement in Oct.5.
"We've taken this unprecedented step in order to avert a potentially dire humanitarian problem," said the head of the ICRC in Ukraine, Alain Aeschlimann.
Aeschlimann stressed that the measure is a band-aid, while a sustainable solution is needed:
"It's a stop-gap measure, not a sustainable solution. It buys more time. Only a political solution can resolve this issue. If nothing is done, people living in the affected area will have to face the region's very harsh winter with no heating or water."
For over a week, water stations located in the government-controlled area of the Luhansk region have had no electricity supply as a result of unpaid bills and, as a result, have stopped functioning. Maintaining water supplies to hospitals, schools, orphanages and social institutions is vital, Red Cross officials emphasised.
The ICRC raised its concern to all those involved in negotiations on the issue to find ways to pay for the water provided by installations located in government-controlled areas and supplied to non-government-controlled areas. It also expressed its readiness to act as a neutral intermediary for fixing technical issues.