UNHCR pleads for more support to civilians trapped in Ukraine conflict

Civilians standing in the queue on a cold, winter day  Civilians standing in the queue on a cold, winter day UNHCR/John Wendle

14 December 2016
Filippo Grandi met civilians affected by Ukraine conflict in his first visit to the country as chief of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

On 24 November 2016 Filippo Grandi visited the areas around Sloviansk, Luhansk and Donetsk, which are heavily ravaged by shelling and fighting and met with a number of civilians, particularly those in need such as the displaced, the disabled and the elderly. This visit enabled him to witness the precarious daily life of residents on both sides of the line of contact. Besides general security issues and heavy restrictions on freedom of movement, checkpoints and other bureaucratic procedures remain a formidable obstacle to the access to medical care and other social services. Pensioners, for instance, must stand in long queues amid bitter weather to cross the checkpoints and enter the government-controlled areas to be able to collect their small pension, as buses cannot go through the no man’s land between checkpoints. Disabled people and their carers have been displaced – some of them more than once – and have to make do  with basic equipment.

A report released in early December by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine states that over 2.000 civilians have so far lost their lives as a result of the conflict, whereas the number of those injured in eastern Ukraine ranges between 6.000 and 7.000. It also regrets not being provided full and unhindered access to detention facilities in the territory controlled by armed groups in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which raises concerns about the deterioration of  human rights abuses and regression of fundamental freedoms.


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