(QHA) -

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed deep concern over what it said was the "escalation" of violence between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine over the past two weeks.

In a January 20 statement, the ICRC said the fighting in and around the city of Donetsk was killing civilians and "preventing" its team from carrying out its humanitarian work.

The Red Cross said that "harsh winter conditions and the suspension of benefit payments" in some parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are making the situation "even more difficult."

It said it was distributing food, hygiene items, medical supplies, and construction materials to both residents and displaced people in the two regions, which are partly held by the rebels.
 
The organization also said it started this month to visit people held in prisons in Donetsk that are not under the control of the Ukrainian authorities. 

QHA