Almost 1.5 Million Unable to Return to Their Homes, Schools, Daily Lives
Amid ceasefire agreements to end the crisis in Ukraine, the United States of America said the impact of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine remains the widespread and unnecessary suffering of Ukrainian civilians.
In her remarks in New York, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Samantha Power, unveiled the drivers of the crisis in Ukraine.
For one, Russia continues to occupy Ukraine’s autonomous region of Crimea which the US says is in defiance of international law, in defiance of its treaty obligations, the Helsinki Final Act, and the resolution passed by 100 members of the UN General Assembly that rejected the Crimea referendum and that called for Ukraine’s territorial integrity to be respected.
According to Ambassador Power, Ukrainian authorities have opened criminal cases against critics of the occupation and specifically targeted the Tatar community, subjecting them to beatings, arbitrary detentions, and police raids.
Other Drivers of the Crisis: Russia Continues to Arm Separatists in Ukraine
According to Ambassador Power, even today Moscow continues to arm, train, support, and fight alongside separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Also, the OHCHR confirmed the continued “inflow of ammunition, weaponry and fighters from the Russian Federation into the territories controlled by the armed groups.”
“A robust combined Russian-separatist military force, led by Russian officers, continues to operate in Ukrainian territory.” – Ambassador Power
In addition, the US says separatists continue to obstruct international monitoring efforts, undermining the ceasefire and the prospects for peace. OSCE monitors face obstruction on a daily basis, and it was reported OSCE monitors on patrol were threatened by separatists with automatic rifles.
In blatant disregard for commitments made, the Russian-backed separatists continue to attack Ukrainian positions along the line of contact almost every day, at times with mortars banned under weapons withdrawal agreements, the US says.
“Ukrainian soldiers and civilians continue to be killed or wounded in these attacks.” – Ambassador Power
According to Ambassador Power, Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine has caused suffering among Ukrainian civilians.
Ambassador Power cited that almost 1.5 million people are unable to return to their homes, their schools, and their daily lives. Worst things are expected, especially as winter has arrived. As many as 300,000 people residing along the contact line are in need of blankets, fuel, and clothes to get them through the cold.
In addition, aid did not reach suffering Ukrainins as few relief organizations are able to work in the separatist-controlled areas because the separatists suspended and expelled UN and international humanitarian organizations in July.
“Only a fraction of the aid required by the two million people in need in these areas is getting through.” – Ambassador Power
With regards to human rights, Ambassador Power cited that there are reports of the a deeply concerning deterioration in the human rights situation in Donbas, as described in depth by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission.
According to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, there are new allegations of killings, torture and ill-treatment, illegal detention, and forced labor in separatist controlled areas.
She added that the self-appointed authorities in the east have systematically failed to stop, investigate, or hold to account those believed responsible for abuses and ill-treatment.
The Mission also reported incidents in areas controlled by the Ukrainian government, and the US urged the government to immediately investigate all serious and credible allegations.
Implementation of Minsk Agreements
Ambassador Power urged Moscow to finally honor the commitments that it made when it signed the Minsk Agreements and ensure that separatists lift restrictions and allow the immediate resumption of critically needed aid.
“We also encourage the Government of Ukraine to accelerate efforts to facilitate the movement of civilians and cargo across the contact line.” – Ambassador Power
She stressed that what is needed now – what is long overdue – is full implementation of the Minsk agreements.
She pointed that the September 2014 and February 2015 Minsk agreements are the best and only way to achieve peace in eastern Ukraine.
Conflict Killed More Than 5,300 People
Since the start of the turmoil, the death toll has reached to more than 5,300 people and displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians. The clashes started in April 2014 after armed separatists took control of towns and official buildings in the Dometsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.
What is Minsk Agreement?
To end the crisis in Ukraine, on Septembet 5, 2014, representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) signed the Minsk Protocol. The agreement entails immediate end of the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine. The agreement was signed after extensive talks and negotiations in Minsk, Belarus and was initiated by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).