Amid the new flareup in fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists, there is serious concern about the plight of civilians caught up in the conflict.
The UN says some 3.8 million people are affected, many in need of humanitarian assistance.
Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told a media conference: “Our needs assessment indicate that the closer people live to the contact line between the government and non-government controlled areas the greater the humanitarian needs.
“Not least for, as we have heard, the elderly, women and children who make up over 70% of people in need.”
There is particular concern about renewed shelling around the government-held town of
Avdiyivka, which has seen its heaviest fighting in more than six months.
Mykola Chechotkin, head of the Ukrainain State Emergency Service, said: “The safe zone shelled during the night has now renewed its normal functioning. People can now have food there and warm up.
“Apart from that, our units situated in the other regions organised the supply of the humanitarian aid for the town of Avdiyivka”.
At least 33 people including civilians have been killed in fighting over the past week, with several dozen people injured.
Monitors from the OSCE report what they describe as an “incredible” number of ceasefire violations on both sides.
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