By Gary Anderson

Ukrainian athletes from the crisis-torn east of the country are to receive NOCU support ©AFP/Getty ImagesNational Olympic Committee of Ukraine (NOCU) President Sergey Bubka has promised that athletes and their families affected by the ongoing conflict in the east of the country will be supported financially and given refuge in capital Kiev.

The announcement comes after the launch of a joint initiative by the NOCU, the Ukrainian Ministry of Youth and the national sports federations in response to the crisis, which has seen an escalation of violence between Ukrainian forces and Russian separatists particularly in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Following the annexation of Crimea by Russia in March, both areas have declared themselves separate from Ukraine after referendums, but the votes have been deemed illegal by the interim Ukraine Government, as well as the United Nations.

The violence and unrest has led to deaths on both the Ukrainian army and rebel fighters' sides, while civilians are also being caught up in the fighting with many fleeing the region to other parts of the country.

"The NOC will take care of elite athletes from various Olympic national teams," said pole vault world record holder Bubka,  a member of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

"The list of athletes who live in the troubled regions has been prepared in cooperation with each federation, and includes 33 athletes, as well as their coaches and family members.

"We speak personally to every athlete addressing his needs and deciding on the best possible options, which include targeted financial support, purchase of the necessary equipment, and so on."

Sergey Bubka has promised the NOCU will provide support to athletes and their families affected by conflict in the east of Ukraine ©Getty Images Sergey Bubka has promised the NOCU will provide support to athletes and their families affected by conflict in the east of Ukraine ©Getty Images

Athletes brought to Kiev will receive up to UAH96,000(£4,750/$8,000/€6,000) to pay for lodgings.

In May, Ukraine was given financial support by both the IOC and the European Olympic Committees (EOC).

The IOC donated $300,000 (£178,300/€218,600) as part of an emergency fund to NOCU to be distributed to athletes in Ukraine for "training and competition purposes".

That was followed by the EOC awarding $100,000 (£61,700/€73,800).

Uncertainty in Ukraine has led to the scrapping of Lviv's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, while the International Basketball Federation stripped Ukraine of Eurobasket 2015 saying it was no longer feasible to stage the tournament due to the ongoing political situation and security issues in the country.

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