Kyiv, January 21, 2016. About 15 thousand people sought help of volunteers of Vostok SOS civic initiative. The list of most frequently asked questions the hotline received includes the following: where is it possible to receive humanitarian, legal and psychological aid. “At first we were helping one another, but then we understood that the requests were too numerous and people didn’t know what to do. We organized a hotline working 24/7, so that people could find out how to leave the occupied territory, where they can find shelter, what first aid – clothes and such – they can get in different regions of Ukraine,” said Yulia Peliusova, coordinator of Vostok SOS at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center in frames of the Spokesperson of Peaceful Life project.
Activists have been bringing food packages for people at front areas since September 2014. “We laid emphasis on the villages from the “grey area” which are usually beyond the reach of international organizations,” said Peliusova. The aid is distributed personally. According to Peliusova, volunteers have been bringing food for over a year now. Nevertheless, it is as urgent new as it used to be a year ago. “There are no food shops there and no money. Moreover, transport connection is poor,” she explained. We have established fruitful cooperation with several international organizations that are providing food packs.
Vostok SOS opened offices in Severodonetsk, Stanytsia Luhanska and Starobilsk. People go there to receive legal and psychological aid, seek help in freeing hostages, solve issues regarding employment etc. It is planned to open offices in Mariupol and Kramatorsk this year. Aid is also rendered to internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in Kyiv and Kyiv region, as well as people from Crimea, in online mode. “Mostly it’s the information on the ways to go to Ukraine [from the temporarily occupied territory – ed. UCMC] and further solve issues with passports, documents and employment,” said Peliusova.
Activists keep monitoring the situation in areas nearby the contact line in close cooperation with local authorities. They are spreading the received news via social media, their own web-site, “Informator” news portal and Hromadske.TV channel. Moreover, members of the initiative are promoting adoption of the draft bills that solve IDP’s problems.
Volunteers are planning to expand their activity, adding new priorities. “Our plan is not simply helping, but developing the society. We want to lay emphasis upon education, both so-called “street universities” and workshops to encourage personal development,” said Peliusova.