There is no such road in the ATO zone which would not be fired at. - the interview with Rimma Fil
Please Find Below an Interview with Rimma FIl.
Coordinator of the Aid+Help Humanitarian Centre of Rinat Akhmetov Foundation tells in the interview to the Segodnya Newspaper how civilians are leaving the ATO zone, what they take along instead of fur coats and jewellery, how they settle down in new places, and why famous journalists need old cars.
— Rimma, in what principal areas does the Humanitarian Centre operate?
— The Centre has defined 4 areas of activities: evacuation of civilians from the ATO zone, accommodation and social adjustment of these people, providing the humanitarian aid and targeted assistance. It should be noted that the Headquarters was established by the decision of the SCM shareholder and the charitable found founder – Rinat Akhmetov. This is continuation of the huge social work carried out by the foundation and the SCM Group of companies. Now all the assets have been united in order to provide assistance to all those suffering the disaster. It is the first time that we have found ourselves in the situation of war and humanitarian crisis, that’s why we need to help people cope with their problems as much as possible.
— How can people turn for help to the Centre?
— We have a twenty-four hour toll-free hot line 0 800 50 9001. We receive 500 calls a day. Besides, you can contact us via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. And also, we work in cooperation with the Ministry of Emergencies and volunteers, who deliver people’s requests to the Headquarters.
— How do you evacuate people? Do you use the green corridors, which the Ukrainian authorities promised to organize in Donetsk and Lugansk?
— In each individual case, we develop various schemes on saving people. In areas where the ATO is not particularly active, we arrange for buses and evacuate people. In areas where fights are at full blast, civilians need to be evacuated by the point principle. For example, last week we were evacuating people under such dense fire that they were waiting for our bus sitting in basements near the bus stop. As soon as the bus arrived, people ran out of shelters, got into the bus, and we left under the fire gun. Speaking about the humanitarian corridor, this is nothing more than nice words. There is no such road in the ATO zone which would not be fired at. We drive through plantations and fields, wherever we can. Now, it takes 4 hours to get from Donetsk to Konstantinovka (1.5 hours in peacetime — Author). Each entry into the ATO zone is like a detective story.
— And are there any arrangements with the self-declared republics in the East about stopping the fire at least during the evacuation of refugees?
— Several days ago, there was an accident on one of the mines. Burnt miners, who survived by a miracle, were evacuated on a bus, which was shelled on the road… Fortunately, nobody was hurt. But it is difficult even to imagine what these people went through! When the life of children is at stake, we need to find agreement with all the parties. These are long chains of agreements. But it is by no means that we always manage to reach such agreements. Thus, in order to evacuate children from the orphanage, we negotiated with the DPR for 10 days. The bus came for children but they would not let it through. But in the end, everything went safely. And two days ago, we evacuated 26 children from a special care home for juvenile offenders in Makeyevka. The terrorists planned to force them serve in the DPR. In fact, this care home housed offenders but they were evacuated even without the police guard, since the children were so frightened of servicing in the DPR, that they needed no guard, they were not going to escape anywhere.
— And do all the civilians rush to leave their homes for the unknown?
— We are forced not only to convince people but practically make them leave the ATO zone. The elder people from the care centre had to be convinced to leave. 172 people from the care centre in Gorlovka were evacuated, but 21 bed-ridden people stayed... We didn’t manage to evacuate them. There was also an incident with the family type orphanage of the Kovalevsk. Representatives of the foundation came there and told them that they had an hour and a half to pack their things that the bus was already waiting. But the Kovalevs started screaming, arguing, they did not understand why they had to leave Donetsk, they hoped that everything would be fine in the city. And many people do not leave their homes because of their pets. People take along cages with parrots, hamsters, cats… When the refugees are told to grab the most valuable things, they take documents and pets. And no one then thinks of fur coats or diamonds.
— Does the state help in solving problems of civilians evacuation from the combat zone?
— Yes, we closely cooperate with the Ministry of Emergencies and local authorities. Together with the Youth Welfare Department, the foundation managed to evacuate foster children from all orphanages and family type orphanages in the Region of Donetsk. But the biggest problem is that the state developed absolutely no system whatsoever for evacuation of people it is in charge of from the ATO zone. And this is a big tragedy. Thus, we hear how Donetsk residents are told to leave everything and escape. Those, who are healthy and have a job, can do it. But children in orphanages, elder people from care centres, patients of hospices and hospitals are left with no power or water supply, no food, and doctors taking care of them there receive no wages... What’s to be done? These people cannot leave on their own. For example, we were evacuating patients of Torez Psychoneurology Centre. Those are disabled people, practically all of them chair-bound. Just imagine how difficult it was to evacuate them.
— How many people have you managed to evacuate? And how do people settle down after the evacuation?
— Since the ATO start, the foundation has evacuated nearly 5 thousand people from the combat zone. More than 1.5 thousand of them are now accommodated at the facilities of the SCM companies. Practically all of the recreation centres at the disposal of metallurgical plants and factories are involved in solving the refugees’ problems. These facilities are located in Mariupol, Svyatogorsk and on the coast of the Azov Sea. In a new place, people are learning to live in a new way. For example, at the facilities of the HarvEast Agro-Industrial Holding in Svyatogorsk people moved in but did not want to just live there. Men got united into a construction brigade and started to make money. Children went to pasture cows. Many people believe that if they were helped, they also need to thank the society, to be useful.
— And what is the role of volunteers in operation of the Humanitarian Centre?
— They give us a huge support. Those volunteers, who work with us, are people of all sorts in everyday life. Among them, there are famous journalists who bought old cars and started to evacuate the elder and disabled people. There are deputies, sophisticated (in recent peaceful life) ladies and many others. The war has changed people. Those who were weak have become strong.
— You have brought up the topic of humanitarian catastrophe in Donbass. In this respect, what is the total scope of humanitarian aid required for civilians?
— At the present time, humanitarian aid has been provided to nearly 30 thousand of people. Most of all, people need medicines and construction materials, since many homes are destroyed. For example, in Slavyansk, we were giving out slate and people repaired their houses themselves. When there were combat operations in Avdiivka, and there was no power and water supply, in the intervals between the firings, Avdiivka By-Product Coke Plant was delivering bread. Also, in some cities and towns there has been no water supply for 60 days already, and the DTEK (the SCM company — Author) with its water carriers is delivering drinking water to such cities. Besides, we purchase medicines for hospitals, generators for no surgeries to be made in the candlelight when the power supply is off. This is a huge humanitarian aid financed by Rinat Akhmetov. As soon as Donbass faced the disaster, Akhmetov told that he would never leave his home people to suffer. And he keeps his word.
from 0 to 35 months old