Today Francis O`Donnell, UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine, met with the Chairman of Ivano-Frankivsk Regional Council Igor Oliynyk. According to the UN Office in Ukraine, the meeting has been conducted over the ongoing UN fact-finding mission`s two-day visit to the region aimed at assessing the current humanitarian situation and medium and long-term flood recovery needs in Western Ukraine.  

The Regional Council Chairman thanked UN Resident Coordinator for paying a visit to Ivano-Frankivsk. In his opinion, the region`s top priority tasks at the moment are ensuring control over the epidemiological situation and restoring the infrastructure in those villages which remain cut from the outside world as a consequence of the recent floods. According to the Regional Council, during 25-27 July the water levels in the region`s rivers raised dramatically. As a result, a total of 440 Ukrainian settlements and about 23,000 hectares of farmland have been flooded. In the region, 467 km of river banks, 500 footbridges have been damaged. Within this period, 24 people died, 330 houses vanished and 9,377 residents were evacuated.  

In Oliynyk`s words, as of today the water levels in the region`s rivers remain stable. The Regional authorities are double-checking the existing data and make calculations of the losses. Following the earlier resolution by the Verkhovna Rada, out of UAH 949 mn, which were disbursed from the state budget directed at addressing the aftermath of the flooding, the Region received UAH 180 mn. "Many people offered us their assistance. We got humanitarian aid from our partners in the neighbouring countries. We`ll be pleased to hear about what could you do for us," Oliynyk said. 

In his turn, O`Donnell said that Ukraine submitted to the UN an earlier list of specific needs and aid volumes, which are necessary to address the flood consequences in Western Ukraine. "That`s why we are here," he said. He added that a couple of UN colleagues came to Western Ukraine earlier to assess the recovery needs. "In our opinion so far the Ukrainian Government and regoional authorities did a good job to address the problem. We are glad to see the substantial progress in repairing infrastructure and getting people home. But we are still concerned with long-term recovery in the flood-affected regions," O`Donnell said. 

As UN Coordinator in Ukraine says, the UN has not yet estimated the amounts of losses needed for full recovery. He said that "originally UN does not do in-depth assessment, but we rely on Government`s assessment and data".  "So far we do not see a need for major humanitarian urgency intervention, first of all, because the Government of Ukraine did a good job, but at the same time there is a need for specific targeted help to certain groups and regions," O`Donnell said. 

According to the UN Coordinator, the mission`s members are interested to see in this trip the following: epidemiological situation and health of people; water safety and santitation; well-being of the most vulnerable families - especially those who lost their relatives and houses; as well as potential environmetal hazards.  "We have some financial and expertise resources on stand-by to help the Government, the Ministry of Emergency Situations and regional authorities to prepare the contingency plan preventing similar disasters," O`Donnell said. 

Responding to this, Oliynyk said that today they`re working on a plan to list the moves needed to prevent similar catastrophes in the future. "I think there will be adopted a specialised Government`s programme directed at anti-flood measures, as the Prime Minister mentioned earlier. But the local authorities are unable to finance this on their own, thus, assistance from international organisations is, indeed, needed," he said. 

As it was reported earlier, on 6 August the UN fact-finding mission led by Francis O`Donnell, UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine, has left Kyiv for Ivano-Frankivsk. On 7-8 August 2008 the UN team including Jeremy Hartley, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine, and experts of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) will assess the current humanitarian situation and medium and long-term recovery needs.  It is planned that the UN delegation members will meet with the local authorities and the people affected by the recent floods in the villages near Nadvirna, Verkhovyna and Kolomyja.