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Eastern Ukraine On Brink Of Humanitarian Crisis As Winter Looms

With winter looming, the European Commission estimates 5 million people require urgent humanitarian aid in eastern Ukraine. The situation is most dire for those who have been displaced or live near the front lines in areas beyond government control. The World Food Program is racing to distribute food vouchers and parcels to the one million people who are the most vulnerable and require immediate food assistance. (Photos by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)


In eastern Ukraine's Luhansk region damaged homes are a common sight. The word 'dangerous' is painted on this building to warn people the structure is unstable.  
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In eastern Ukraine's Luhansk region damaged homes are a common sight. The word 'dangerous' is painted on this building to warn people the structure is unstable.
 

Struggling to survive, Vera Mihailova wipes tears from her eyes. She is disabled and her husband and son are both unemployed. “My pension is 940 hryvnia ($40) per month," she said. "How can my family survive on 940 hryvnia?”
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Struggling to survive, Vera Mihailova wipes tears from her eyes. She is disabled and her husband and son are both unemployed. “My pension is 940 hryvnia ($40) per month," she said. "How can my family survive on 940 hryvnia?”

A World Food Program worker walks past the shattered remains of a shelled building on the outskirts of Slavyansk.
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A World Food Program worker walks past the shattered remains of a shelled building on the outskirts of Slavyansk.

After having her right leg amputated due to diabetes, Natalia Kot has been house bound for the past 5 years. She's able to survive with the help of food vouchers from the World Food Program.
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After having her right leg amputated due to diabetes, Natalia Kot has been house bound for the past 5 years. She's able to survive with the help of food vouchers from the World Food Program.

People register for humanitarian aid in Lysychansk.
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People register for humanitarian aid in Lysychansk.

Pensioners patiently queue to register for World Food Program aid vouchers.
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Pensioners patiently queue to register for World Food Program aid vouchers.

After fleeing their home, this child and his family now live in a student dormitory. Schooling can be a problem, however, because only children who have a certificate of education are permitted to attend classes. Many families were unable to bring the certificates with them as they were evacuated from their homes.  
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After fleeing their home, this child and his family now live in a student dormitory. Schooling can be a problem, however, because only children who have a certificate of education are permitted to attend classes. Many families were unable to bring the certificates with them as they were evacuated from their homes.  

When his wife and son were killed in the conflict, 77-year-old pensioner Piotr Jakovlich went to live in this student accommodation. Once a PhD candidate at a Moscow university, he is now an IDP or internally displaced person. He relies on food donations to survive.
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When his wife and son were killed in the conflict, 77-year-old pensioner Piotr Jakovlich went to live in this student accommodation. Once a PhD candidate at a Moscow university, he is now an IDP or internally displaced person. He relies on food donations to survive.

Neli Sergeyevna cares for her blind and mentally disabled son Igor. They survive on food vouchers from the World Food Program.
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Neli Sergeyevna cares for her blind and mentally disabled son Igor. They survive on food vouchers from the World Food Program.

A typical monthly ration for one person from the World Food Program. The parcel weighs 21 kilograms and contains buckwheat, macaroni, kidney beans, canned meat, canned fish, sunflower oil, sugar, salt and tea.
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A typical monthly ration for one person from the World Food Program. The parcel weighs 21 kilograms and contains buckwheat, macaroni, kidney beans, canned meat, canned fish, sunflower oil, sugar, salt and tea.

The head of the World Food Program in Kramatorsk, Zulfia Sabir, explains how food parcels allow recipients to diversify their diets. “For beneficiaries who get the boxes, it frees a certain amount of money from their budgets that can now be used to buy vegetables and fruits," she said.
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The head of the World Food Program in Kramatorsk, Zulfia Sabir, explains how food parcels allow recipients to diversify their diets. “For beneficiaries who get the boxes, it frees a certain amount of money from their budgets that can now be used to buy vegetables and fruits," she said.

With so many damaged roads and bridges in eastern Ukraine, it can be a challenge for World Food Program workers to deliver humanitarian aid.   
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With so many damaged roads and bridges in eastern Ukraine, it can be a challenge for World Food Program workers to deliver humanitarian aid. 
 

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