Switzerland is carrying out its largest ever aid operation in the conflict zone of eastern Ukraine, the government announced Sunday.
Switzerland is providing 2,300 tonnes of aid including water treatment chemicals, hospital equipment and medical material to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The water treatment chemicals are to be used to produce clean drinking water for around 4 millions people on both sides of the demarcation line, the government noted.
The aid is worth CHF12 million ($13 million) and is being delivered in five convoys comprising a total of 144 lorries.
An initial convoy of lorries loaded with Swiss relief supplies arrived in Donetsk on Saturday along with six members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA).
SHA is a division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The corps comprises about 700 specialists who may be deployed on aid missions for Switzerland or the United Nations.
The relief shipment includes 30 ventilators provided by the Swiss Armed Forces Pharmacy. In addition, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is providing 1.5 million antigen tests.
Before assembling the medical supplies – worth CHF9 million in total – it was clarified that they would not be needed for the Swiss population.
The timing of the relief shipment coincides with signs of a renewed wave of the pandemic taking hold in eastern Ukraine.
Apart from Switzerland, only the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN are delivering humanitarian relief to the disputed territories in eastern Ukraine.
Switzerland has sent 13 shipments of aid to eastern Ukraine since 2015.
The conflict in Donbas (also known as the Donetsk Basin) erupted after Russia annexed Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula in March 2014.
A 500km line of separation exists between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in the breakaway territories of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Source: Swiss Info