During a trip to Donbas, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga visited the Water of Donbas public utility company.
The Presidents heard a report by Head of the Donetsk Regional State Administration Pavlo Kyrylenko on problematic issues of the company's activity.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that this public utility company provides drinking water to about four million residents of the Donetsk region, including Ukrainians living in the temporarily occupied territories. Since 2014, the enterprise’s facilities have been repeatedly shelled by illegal armed groups, which has periodically cut off water supplies. The technical condition of the company's infrastructure has deteriorated, the shortage of chemical reagents for water and technological equipment purification has increased.
"In these circumstances, humanitarian aid from Switzerland has become extremely important to us. Tens of thousands of tons of chemical reagents for purification, drinking water disinfection plants and much more made it possible to prevent a humanitarian disaster in the Donetsk region," the Ukrainian President said.
He praised the new Swiss Cooperation Program with Ukraine for the next three years, according to which 1.4 million Swiss francs were allocated for the needs of the Water of Donbas in 2020.
"Today, Madame President and I are meeting a humanitarian cargo from the Swiss Confederation - 17 trucks more. 15 of them brought chemicals and reagents. One will deliver personal protective equipment to the Slovyansk Central Hospital. And another one - hydrolysis devices for water purification in Volnovakha and Mariupol. Today, I sincerely thank our Swiss friends for their important and valuable help," the President of Ukraine said.
Head of the Donetsk RSA Pavlo Kyrylenko noted that the Water of Donbas is the largest enterprise in the Donetsk region. It employs more than 11 thousand people.
"We start the supply to the territory controlled by Ukraine, then the water goes to the uncontrolled territory, and then again goes to the south of the region, to Mariupol," the Head of the Donetsk Regional State Administration noted.
He added that with international assistance it is planned to modernize the Siversky Donets-Donbas canal. It is also planned to improve the operation of the water supply system to reduce dependence on the area where hostilities continue, and to introduce energy-efficient technologies. As part of energy efficiency improvement, it is planned to replace old pipes with new, plastic ones. It is also planned to install new pumps, which will help reduce energy supply by 1.5 times.
Simonetta Sommaruga noted that the supply of drinking water is very important for overcoming humanitarian challenges. This was clearly demonstrated by the coronavirus crisis, as water means hygiene.
She stressed that Switzerland has been providing humanitarian assistance to the population of Ukraine along the line of delimitation since 2015.
"Mr. President, I would like to sincerely thank you and your government for continuing to allow Swiss humanitarian aid to come to areas that are not under the control of the Ukrainian government today. It shows your commitment to humanitarian principles and understanding of the needs of the people in the region," the President of the Swiss Confederation emphasized.
According to her, because of the warm winter this year, more chemical reagents had to be used to prepare drinking water, and their stocks in warehouses are running out.
"Therefore, I am very glad that we were able to transfer 300 tons of aid for water purification and appropriate devices that will help people get clean water. Mr. President, rest assured that this is not the last humanitarian aid from Switzerland - we are planning the next big batch in September. The Swiss people and government will not leave Ukraine,” Simonetta Sommaruga said, addressing Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Presidents also inspected a Swiss humanitarian convoy of 17 trucks with equipment and chemical reagents for purifying water under the Water of Donbas project and COVID-19 medical protection means for Slovyansk hospitals.
Switzerland is virtually the only country that provides humanitarian aid on both sides of the delimitation line in east Ukraine. The main humanitarian projects are drinking water purification in Donbas, delivery of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. The Water of Donbas public utility company has received humanitarian aid from the government of Switzerland on ensuring drinking water quality for the population of the Donetsk region since 2015. In 2016-2019, the company received aid in the amount of UAH 49.8 million.
The Presidents had a conversation with representatives of the Water of Donbas and the Swiss humanitarian convoy.
Also, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Simonetta Sommaruga laid flowers to the memorial plaque to the workers of the enterprise perished as a result of the shelling of the territory of the pump station by the illegal armed groups.