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The situation around the blockade of the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center and infrastructure facilities of FC Shakhtar in Donetsk and in the non-government controlled area


The operations of the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center have been blocked by some gunmen in the non-government controlled area of Donetsk Oblast. The Center has no access to Donbass Arena or distribution points. The director of the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center Aleksandr Vishnyakov, director of FC Shakhtar Sergey Palkin, and coordinator of the Humanitarian Center Rimma Fil talked about the situation during a joint press briefing.

The Center was blocked on 28 February. Some armed men blocked access for volunteers and the Humanitarian Center workers to Donbass Arena and all distribution points in Donetsk and in the non-government controlled area of Donetsk Oblast. The distribution points have been sealed and we have no access to humanitarian assistance or property of the Center. As of the morning, 28 February, there were about 70,000 adult and children’s food sets at Donbass Arena and distribution points.

“I address all recipients of our help. The Center’s operations have been blocked, so we have no access to food packages or other property of the Center. Therefore, we can’t distribute aid and you can’t receive it from Rinat Akhmetov,” said Aleksandr Vishnyakov.

“We don’t know the reasons for blocking our help in the non-government controlled area of Donetsk Oblast. No claims or demands have been made. We don’t know about the plans of those who block Donbass Arena. Without Donbass Arena and all distribution points, the Humanitarian Center will not be able to resume distribution of food packages in Donetsk and in the non-government controlled area. 

The hotline of the Center has received more than 15,000 calls over the past three days. People ask two questions: “When can I receive aid?” and “How shall we live?”

“If you ask people, they will say that the assistance of the Rinat Akhmetov Center is needed badly. It’s absolutely necessary. We are ready to resume operations as soon as Donbass Arena and all distribution points are unblocked. The decision to block our assistance was made for us and for those who receive this aid and need it. We don’t know why the operations of the Humanitarian Center have been blocked. But hundreds of thousands of people – the elderly, children and young mothers – suffer because of this decision. The most vulnerable are on the brink of survival. This is the worst thing,” said Aleksandr Vishnyakov.  

The Rinat Akhmetov Center has asked all international missions to focus on the humanitarian situation in Donbas and human rights violations. The blockade of operations of the largest humanitarian mission in Donbas could result in a humanitarian disaster.

On 17 February, UNICEF published the latest data: one million children in the east of Ukraine need urgent humanitarian assistance. Their number has doubled in a year.

“We have helped 1,145,000 civilians in Donbas. During this time, helping his fellow countrymen has been a top priority for Rinat Akhmetov. This is his home land. What’s happening in Donbas is his pain. Therefore, saving civilians is the goal of our Humanitarian Center. The scope of the Center’s operations is unique,” said Rimma Fil.

“Turning the lights on Donbass Arena is not difficult. Anyone can do it. It was much more difficult to build it. Who built it and how much love was put into it – believe me, not only people from Donetsk, or Donbas, or Ukraine know and remember. The name of this person is well known across the entire Europe and the world. To press the button and turn the light is not a victory, it means nothing, it’s just funny. Donbass Arena was shining when it was filled with fans and when Shakhtar won its victories. And it will be shining again only when Shakhtar will play there as before, with the best clubs of the world and for its fans. It will be shining again when we hear the Champions League anthem. Donbass Arena will not shine until Shakhtar is back home. The current developments in Donetsk don’t move this moment closer but alienate Shakhtar fans and hundreds of thousands of people who wait for the team to come back home,” said Sergey Palkin.

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