memorandum by Mr Sheridan, rapporteur
1. The Parliamentary Assembly has closely followed the
situation in Ukraine since the outbreak of the political crisis
in November 2013. It held two urgent debates on the functioning
of democratic institutions in Ukraine during its first and second
part-sessions, in January and April 2014 respectively. The co-rapporteurs of
the Monitoring Committee have carried out several visits to Kiev,
and the Presidential Committee, accompanied by the co-rapporteurs
on Ukraine, went to Kiev, Lviv and Donetsk at the end of March 2014. Furthermore,
during its third and fourth part-sessions, in June and October 2014
respectively, the Assembly held two current affairs debates on the
crisis in Ukraine.
In reaction to the events in Ukraine, the Assembly held a
debate on the reconsideration on substantive grounds of the previously
ratified credentials of the Russian delegation during the second
part-session in April 2014. Resolution
adopted on that occasion strongly condemned the violation
of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by the Russian
Federation and considered the annexation of Crimea as a breach of
international law. At the same time, the Assembly expressed its
utmost concern at the situation of minorities in Crimea, in particular
of Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians, and urged Russia, which
is in control of this territory, to ensure that their rights are
3. An Assembly delegation observed an early presidential election
held in Ukraine on 25 May 2014 as a part of the International Election
Observation Mission. In their conclusions, the observers stated
that the election had been largely in line with democratic standards
despite the hostile security environment in two eastern regions
of the country.
The Assembly’s delegation also observed the early parliamentary
elections held on 26 October 2014. According to the preliminary
conclusions, the elections “marked an important step in consolidating
democratic elections in line with international commitments and
were characterised by many positive aspects including an impartial
and efficient Central Election Commission, competitive contests
that offered voters real choice, and general respect for fundamental
5. The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons
has, for its part, followed the impact of the ongoing conflict regarding
the humanitarian situation of the population of Ukraine. On 10 April
2014, it organised a hearing on the situation of refugees and internally
displaced persons (IDPs) from Crimea, with the participation of
Mr Mustafa Dzhemiliev (Ukraine, EPP/CD), leader of the Crimean Tatar
community, and Mr Mykola Tochytskyi, Ambassador Extraordinary and
Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the Council
6. In light of the ongoing instability in the south-eastern regions
of Ukraine and its growing impact on the population in the affected
areas, as well as the humanitarian situation in Ukraine as a whole,
the committee organised two hearings on the subject with the participation
of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) and representatives of Ukrainian and Russian civil society
dealing with displaced persons and refugees during the June and
September/October part-sessions. The conclusions of these hearings
have contributed to the present report.
7. As rapporteur on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and
a former rapporteur on Europe’s missing persons, I made a statement,
following the hearing held by the committee on 30 September 2014,
in which I expressed my concern over the growing number of persons
who are reported as being missing on all sides of the military conflict
in Ukraine, and I called on the authorities of Ukraine and the Russian
Federation to undertake all necessary measures aimed at helping
the families of missing persons to find and, where appropriate,
to identify the remains of their loved ones without delay.
8. Other institutions and bodies of the Council of Europe have
also paid close attention to the situation in Ukraine. In April
2014, the International Advisory Panel was constituted by the Secretary
General of the Council of Europe to oversee the investigations into
the violent incidents which took place in Kiev during the Maidan demonstrations.
Its mandate has subsequently been extended to looking into the tragic
events which took place in Odessa on 2 May 2014. Furthermore, the
Secretary General has appointed a Special Advisor for Ukraine, mandated
with assisting the Ukrainian authorities in the internal reform
process, including the legislation concerning internally displaced
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Nils
Muižnieks, carried out a mission to Kiev, Moscow and Simferopol
from 7 to 12 September 2014. In his conclusions, he referred to
cases of serious human rights violations, including killings, enforced
disappearances, severe physical ill-treatment and arbitrary detention
in Crimea since March 2014.Note
The present report, which stems from a motion for a resolution
tabled on behalf of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced
Persons in June 2014,Note
focuses on the humanitarian situation
of the Ukrainian refugees and displaced persons. It reflects upon
the major concerns resulting from the displacement of vast numbers
of the Ukrainian population, both from Crimea and from the south-eastern
regions of the country within and outside Ukraine. It analyses the
short- and long-term responses to the humanitarian crisis provided
by the authorities concerned. It also deals with the plight of the
population who are living in an insecure and unsafe environment
in areas under the control of armed militants. Finally, the report
draws attention to potential humanitarian risks for the Ukrainian
population as a whole, if short- and long-term solutions are not introduced
as a matter of urgency.
11. In order to better reflect on the specific focus of this report,
which concentrates on the plight of the population irrespective
of the place of displacement, I proposed to change its title to
read as follows: “The humanitarian situation of Ukrainian refugees
and displaced persons”. In my view, it corresponds better to the content
which is not limited to the situation in Ukraine itself.
12. As is often the case with humanitarian concerns which are
not related to natural disasters, I could not remove myself entirely
from the inherent political aspects of the situation. However, I
have strictly limited my exposure to these issues, trying not to
interfere in any way with the work of my colleagues from the Monitoring Committee.
In the preparation of the present report, I based its content
on information provided by UNHCR and by the national and international
non-governmental organisations operating in Ukraine and in the Russian Federation.
Furthermore, I took into account the findings of the reports on
the human rights situation in Ukraine released by the Office of
the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, published
periodically, and in particular of the most recent one released
in October 2014. I also used the conclusions of the United Nations Special
Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons following
his visit to Ukraine in late September 2014.Note
Further important sources of information
were regular updates of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
and its special thematic report on internal displacement in Ukraine.Note
Needless to say, I carefully
followed all official statements of the authorities in Ukraine and
the Russian Federation.
14. In order to get better acquainted with the living conditions
and everyday concerns of the affected population, I carried out
two information visits: to Ukraine on 16-19 November 2014, and to
the Russian Federation on 7-10 December 2014 with a view to meeting
the authorities responsible for IDPs and refugees and the displaced
persons themselves, and to get first-hand information on their situation.
For objective reasons (dates of the visits, deadlines for processing
and distributing documents), it is impossible to include the findings
of these visits in the present report. Therefore, during the submission
of this report to the committee, I reported orally on the mission
to Ukraine, and I will include my conclusions with regard to both visits
in a separate addendum to this report which will be submitted to
the committee during the January 2015 part-session. Should it prove
expedient, I would submit to the committee proposed amendments to
the draft resolution.
on the current situation and serious humanitarian concerns
15. When the newly elected President of Ukraine, Petro
Poroshenko, took office on 7 June 2014, the country was facing the
biggest challenges in its 23-year post-Soviet independence history.
The Crimean Peninsula remained under Russian occupation, following
the illegal so called “referendum” held on 16 March 2014, and its
subsequent annexation by the Russian Federation, and the situation
in the two south-eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk was very
16. Armed militants of the self-proclaimed, so-called “Donetsk
People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic”, physically occupied
most of the key public and administrative buildings in many cities
and towns, and the Ukrainian military forces were unable to regain
control of both regions despite an operation launched in mid-April.
There has been regular and intense fighting between armed pro-Russian
separatist groups and the regular Ukrainian army.
17. The numbers of armed people and weapons in both regions have
been steadily growing and in a very worrying development, separatists
have gained access to advanced weaponry including anti-aircraft
artillery, tanks and armoured troop carriers. In a clear illustration
of these allegations, the separatists shot down a number of Ukrainian
military planes and helicopters. The lamentable downing of the Malaysian
Airlines passenger plane by an anti-aircraft missile on 17 July
2014 which, by all accounts, was fired from separatist-held territory,
is another example of the changing nature of the conflict.
18. It has been publicly confirmed by representatives of the so-called
“Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” and
widely recognised by the international community on the basis of
reliable evidence that large numbers of armed militants as well
as weaponry – including heavy weaponry – come from Russia and have
been actively engaged in fighting on Ukrainian territory.
19. In its statement on 17 September 2014, the Committee of Ministers
of the Council of Europe urged the Russian Federation “to withdraw
all its troops from Ukraine and refrain from any further military
interference in Ukraine, including the supply of military assets
to other parties, and to secure the border to avoid the illegal transfer
of such assets, in full respect of the United Nations’ charter and
its commitments within the Council of Europe, regarding in particular
the principles of the peaceful settlement of the disputes and the
full respect of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence
of States, rejecting any forms of threats of force”. Similarly,
the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of
Europe adopted, on 16 October 2014, a declaration condemning Russian
military aggression against Ukraine and “all forms of pressure by Russia
on its neighbours”. For their part, the Russian authorities have
repeatedly denied any involvement of Russian troops in the conflict.
20. The dramatic change in the nature of the conflict and the
heavy fighting which broke out in mid-June, resulted in massive
casualties among the civilian population caught up in the crossfire
between armed separatists and Ukrainian military forces, both sides
simultaneously accusing the other of war crimes and indiscriminate
shelling. Numerous reports on atrocities allegedly committed by
both sides and proven by high numbers of casualties, disappearances
and mass graves still require objective investigations and punishment of
perpetrators. The growing climate of insecurity in the Luhansk and
Donetsk regions caused a dramatic increase in the population displacement
from 2 600 persons on 6 June 2014 to 86 600 persons on 15 July 2014.
Those who did not leave their homes have remained not only in an
unsafe and insecure environment, but find themselves in a dire humanitarian
situation brought about by damaged infrastructure, shortages of water
and food, and no access to basic social services such as hospitals
and health care.
21. According to an Amnesty International report released on 1
October 2014, both parties to the conflict have been responsible
for a pattern of indiscriminate attacks on populated areas, killing
and injuring civilians and destroying their homes. Furthermore,
both parties have employed Grad rockets – known for their lack of accuracy
– in civilian areas.
22. For a long time, international efforts of mediation have not
brought about tangible results. There has not been much progress
in the implementation of the Geneva road map setting up steps to
de-escalate tensions and restore security in the region, drawn up
on 17 April 2014 by representatives of the European Union, the United
States, Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Political dialogue which
failed in bringing about expected positive results was partly replaced
by the successive introduction of economic and political sanctions
on both sides. The level of mistrust may be well illustrated by
the incident of 22 August 2014, involving a convoy of more than
100 Russian lorries which entered Ukraine without authorisation,
carrying, according to the Russian authorities, humanitarian aid
for the besieged city of Luhansk.
23. In a positive development, the efforts of the Trilateral Contact
Group of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation
and the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office resulted in the meeting between
President Poroshenko and President Putin which took place in Minsk
on 26 August 2014. This was followed by meetings involving representatives
of pro-Russian separatists, which resulted in an exchange of prisoners.
Finally, on 5 September 2014 a ceasefire was signed in Minsk between
Ukrainian officials and representatives of the two self-proclaimed
regions in the presence of representatives of Russia and the OSCE.
The truce was supposed to put an end to the five-month-long bloodshed.
24. At the time of drafting the present report (first half of
November 2014), the situation remains extremely fragile and unstable
and it is difficult to predict future developments. While there
has been an absence of large- scale offensive actions since the
ceasefire was announced, in some areas artillery, tanks and small
arms exchanges have continued almost on a daily basis. According
to the above mentioned Amnesty International report, indiscriminate
attacks in residential areas have continued to be conducted by both
sides of the conflict.
On 1 October 2014, at least nine civilians were killed in
strikes on a school and a bus in Donetsk. On 30 September 2014,
six civilians were killed in the Kievsky district, more were killed
and wounded in the Debaltseve area and Adiivka, north of the Donetsk
airport, and in the town of Shchastya in the Luhansk region. People
continue to be killed or wounded albeit on a much smaller scale
than before the truce. According to the United Nations Human Rights
between 6 September and 6 October, at least
331 fatalities were recorded, although some individuals may have
been killed prior to the ceasefire, with the data only recorded later.
26. In the statement released on 8 October 2014, the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, denounced
the fact that the conflict continues to kill and wound civilians,
and to deprive the residents in the areas directly affected by the
violence of their basic human rights.
There is increasing evidence, confirmed by OSCE monitors,
of large convoys of heavy weapons and troops flowing into areas
under separatists control from the Russian Federation. The Assistant
Secretary General ad interim for Political Affairs, Jens Anders
Toyberg-Frandzen, stressed at the meeting of the United Nations
Security Council of 12 November 2014, that failure to secure the
Russian-Ukrainian border continued to impede the path to peace.Note
28. Local elections held by separatists in the areas under their
control were condemned as unconstitutional and contrary to the Minsk
ceasefire agreement by Ukraine have been deplored by many in the
international community, including the United Nations Secretary
General. The vote on 2 November 2014 echoed the so- called “referendum”.
Regrettably, it triggered a new wave of armed hostilities.
29. On the other hand, the recent parliamentary elections held
throughout the country, except in Crimea and areas under separatists’
control, along with the prospect of a reform-oriented ruling coalition,
could contribute to the peace and stability of the country.
30. While the ceasefire is a very welcome step towards the ending
of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, all parties must genuinely
respect and uphold it, and stop all attacks on civilians and civilian
infrastructure. Political dialogue should continue, and the meeting
between President Poroshenko and President Putin in Milan on 17
October 2014 might allow for cautious optimism in this respect.
3 Displacement of
the population inside Ukraine
31. According to the census of 2001, the total population
of Ukraine amounted to 47.2 million. Approximately 1.9 million of
them lived in Crimea and over 5 million lived in the Donetsk and
Luhansk regions – the eastern parts of the country which are affected
by the armed conflict.
32. The numbers of displaced persons, both inside and outside
Ukraine, were changing on a daily basis throughout the armed conflict
and they continue to change following the ceasefire of 5 September
2014. Therefore, any figures should be seen in the context of developments
on the ground which I described in the previous chapter. It is important,
however, to give careful thought to the pattern of displacement
and changing figures, in order to better understand the scale of
the humanitarian tragedy within the whole nation.
33. According to UNHCR statistics as at 18 September 2014, the
overall number of IDPs in Ukraine amounted to 295 000 people. Almost
94% (277 695 people) come from the eastern regions of Ukraine, and 6%
(over 18 000) from Crimea. At least 163 000 people became displaced
in the last half of August and in the beginning of September. Most
of the IDPs remain in the Donetsk region (55 000) and in Kiev (43 000).
34. Data released by the Ukrainian State Emergency Service on
2 October reports 375 792 IDPs. Important differences in the figures
are due to a number of reasons including: continued displacement
albeit on a smaller scale between 18 September and 2 October despite
the ceasefire (at the same time, returns to some areas could be
observed); late registration of people displaced earlier; and last
but not least, problems with regard to registration procedures.
I will deal with the latter below.
35. However, both the UNHCR and the Ukrainian authorities admit
that the real figures are much higher, even as many as two or three
times, as numerous internally displaced persons do not seek any
kind of recognition of their status or request official assistance.
They often rely on their relatives or friends.
3.1 IDPs from Crimea
36. Since the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation
in March 2014, thousands of people, mainly Crimean Tatars who, in
2012, constituted up to 12.1% of the peninsula’s population, have
fled to mainland Ukraine.
37. Resolution 1988
“Recent developments in Ukraine: threats to the functioning
of democratic institutions”, adopted in April 2014, expressed the
Assembly’s concern about the increasing number of credible reports
of violations of human rights of the ethnic Ukrainian and Crimean
Tatar minorities in Crimea following it’s annexation by Russia.
38. Unfortunately, reports of intimidation and harassment as well
as discrimination particularly with regard to employment and education
of the “pro-Ukrainian” population continue to come up. In his statement
on 12 September 2014, following his visit to Crimea, Mr Nils Muižnieks,
the Commissioner for Human Rights, referred to “cases of serious
human rights violations, including killings, enforced disappearances,
severe physical ill-treatment and arbitrary detention in Crimea
since March 2014”. According to the Commissioner, not only Crimean
Tatars but also ethnic Ukrainians and those who have expressed critical
views of recent political developments are targeted.
39. The Commissioner’s observations have been confirmed by the
OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Ms Astrid Thors,
who, at the end of her visit to Ukraine from 15 to 17 September
2014, expressed her increasing concern about the situation in Crimea.
In her statement on 19 September 2014, she said: “I am alarmed by
reports of increased intimidation of ethnic Ukrainians, as well
as intrusive searches in the homes, businesses, and public and religious
organisations of Crimean Tatars, including in the premises of the
Meijlis. I urge the authorities in de
facto control of Crimea to respect international law
and OSCE commitments, and to guarantee human rights, including minority
rights, on the territory of their effective control.”
Similarly, in his most recent report,Note
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights notes that the
human rights situation in Crimea continues to be marked by multiple
and ongoing violations, including the curtailment of the freedoms
of expression, peaceful assembly, association and of religion or
belief, and increasing intimidation of Crimean Tatars under the
pretext of combating terrorism.
41. These allegations have been fully confirmed by the Krym SOS
aid initiative’s leader, Mr Alim Aliyev, quoting direct accounts
from witnesses who have fled Crimea. They recounted fear for their
security, personal threats received over the phone or via social
media, and threatening messages found on their property as reasons
42. According to UNHCR statistics, as at 24 September 2014, as
many as 17 928 people including 5 068 children, and 1 269 disabled
and elderly people have fled Crimea. This figure consists mainly
of Tatars; but there are also certain professionals such as journalists,
human rights activists and intellectuals who flee fearing persecution
because of their ethnicity, religious beliefs or human rights activities.
It is important to note that the number of those displaced from
Crimea is still growing and people continue to leave the peninsula
albeit on a limited scale.
43. Almost 50% of all IDPs from Crimea have headed to central
Ukraine, and around a quarter have fled to the country’s western
regions. People have been accommodated in shelters provided by local
authorities, or have been accepted into privately owned spaces such
as sanatoriums or hotels. Others are being hosted in private homes.
44. Our committee has followed the situation of the Crimean Tatars
in the past: in 2000 it prepared a report on the repatriation and
integration of Crimean Tatars. It is worth recalling here that more
than 200 000 Tatars had been deported in May 1944 on Stalin’s orders.
About 40% died in the first two years of their exile. Some 260 000
have returned to Crimea since the 1980s, and they made up 10% of
the population of Crimea before its annexation by Russia in March
3.2 IDPs from eastern
parts of Ukraine
45. Displacement from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions
started in the days leading up to the so-called “referendum” held
in both regions on 11 May 2014. At that time, journalists, elected
representatives, local politicians, civil servants and civil society
activists became privileged targets of serious human rights abuses, including
abductions, detentions, acts of ill-treatment, torture and killings.
People were also leaving the areas affected by street violence,
in particular Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.
46. The majority of them, however, remained in the eastern rural
areas as they were afraid to leave because of harassment at checkpoints
by armed groups. Such IDPs were not registered and did not receive
any assistance. The majority of international humanitarian actors,
for security reasons, were unable to access persons displaced within
the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It was therefore impossible to
obtain exact figures. Those who had the courage to leave the region
usually tried to disguise the purpose of their travel by, for example,
taking very few belongings with them. As a consequence, they were
in need of immediate assistance upon arrival in other parts of the
country. The extraordinary mobilisation and solidarity of the host
population at that time largely contributed to addressing their
47. After the so-called “referendum”, there was a significant
increase in criminal activity of armed separatist groups and intensification
of violence which was no longer limited to targeted categories and
affected the wider population. IDPs from the eastern regions interviewed
by the UNHCR reported increasingly frequent abductions, extortion
and harassment. Serious social and economic impact of the conflict
has also become tangible. The flows of those trying to leave the
region have been systematically growing.
As mentioned in the previous chapter, since June 2014, the
area has been affected by regular and intense fighting as the Ukrainian
army tried to restore control over the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The local population has been becoming increasingly caught up in
the crossfire between the military forces and armed separatists.
Given that by that time both sides had heavy equipment in their
possession, the fighting was seriously threatening the security
of civilians and the number of killed and wounded civilians has
been growing rapidly. A total of at least 3 660 people have been
killed since the beginning of the armed conflict up until 6 October
2014 in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions according to the UNHCR.Note
49. Increasingly damaged infrastructure posed a real threat to
sanitation standards. This was compounded by water and food shortages
and no access to basic social services, including hospitals and
50. The flows of fleeing civilians multiplied. However, fleeing
at that time implied taking serious risks to physical security because
of intensive shelling and fighting. On 10 June 2014, President Poroshenko announced
the creation of a humanitarian corridor (safe passage) for civilians,
which was helpful when huge numbers of IDPs started to flee the
region. However, this did not prevent the tragedy which took place
on 18 August, when a convoy of refugees from the Luhansk region
was hit by rockets leaving many women and children dead.
51. Official statistics note that at that time around 300 000
people, including over 85 000 children and almost 40 000 disabled
people, left the region. However, the real figures are more likely
to be two or three times higher.
52. IDPs have settled across the country, but the eastern regions
of Kharkiv (107 700), Donetsk (55 800), Zaporozhia (32 400), Dnipropetrovsk
(30 000) and Luhansk (28 000) accommodated around two thirds of
all the IDPs from the south-eastern regions. Some IDPs may have
been counted more than once as they move from one region to another.
53. According to UNHCR estimations, 80% of IDPs from eastern Ukraine
live with relatives, friends, other host families or in rented apartments.
The remaining 20% live in a variety of collective centres, including summer
camps and reconstructed industrial hangars. These premises usually
do not have heating or hot water. They are partly controlled by
local authorities. However, civil society, churches and volunteers
supported by United Nations agencies and international non-governmental
organisation (NGOs) largely contribute to the collective effort
of assisting them.
54. The ceasefire on 5 September 2014, and a relative improvement
in security, resulted in cautious returns. In the second half of
September, IDPs started returning home in government-controlled
areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. According to the authorities,
almost 50 000 persons had returned as at 24 September 2014. On the
other hand, the UNHCR has observed an increase of 15 000 in the
number of IDPs. However, this is believed to be due to late registrations
of formerly displaced persons.
55. Those who are returning home face serious difficulties. The
volatile security situation is obviously the main concern, but is
far from being the only one. Destroyed or damaged infrastructure
and public and private property make living conditions extremely
difficult. In particular, 11 325 premises have been damaged, of
which 4 501 are residential blocks or flats and houses. Some 2 733
premises related to energy, water and heat supply have been damaged.
Mines and plants have stopped working. 217 educational establishments
have been destroyed, so more than 260 000 children were unable to
start school on 1 September. Forty-five hospitals have been demolished;
there are water shortages and limited access to health care. Expected
gas shortages are particularly worrying in light of the approaching
winter and the many IDPs who are living in temporary and ill-equipped
shelters. Some 40 000 small and medium-sized businesses in the Donetsk
and Luhansk regions have ceased their activity due to the fighting,
leaving great numbers of people without income.
3.3 Ukrainian authorities’
56. From the very beginning of the process of mass displacement,
the Ukrainian authorities were confronted with major challenges
for which they were not properly prepared. For example, in the first
months of the crisis, the central authorities didn’t issue formal
instructions regarding the registration of and assistance to persons displaced,
which resulted in different practices across the country. This is
one of the reasons why it was difficult to obtain reliable statistics
on internal displacement in Ukraine. Moreover, there were no instructions
on funding allocations for IDPs. There were no refugee camps and
people were accepted in temporary accommodation, which is insufficient
in many regions.
57. In the first months of 2014, most people fleeing Crimea were
helped and assisted by relatives or they fended for themselves.
As I have already mentioned, there was also an impressive mobilisation
of the Ukrainian population who showed outstanding solidarity by
hosting IDPs in private homes and providing them with food, transport
and even money. Volunteers organised themselves on social networks,
58. However, with the growing numbers of IDPs from the eastern
parts of Ukraine, this spontaneous assistance reached its limits,
and the government had to face up to its obligations to entirely
comply with international standards as recognised in the 1998 Guiding
Principles on Internal Displacement, to which Ukraine is a signatory.
59. Among numerous concerns during that period, the system of
registration with its limited coverage had a serious impact on the
assistance process as a whole in the short and long term. In each
region, officials responsible for social policy created lists of
displaced persons who had applied for assistance (accommodation,
pensions, employment, etc.). These lists were transmitted regularly
to the Ministry of Social Policy. However, no information was gathered
on people who stayed with their relatives or had settled down using
their own resources. As a result, the official figures did not reflect
60. Some people were reluctant to register, fearing that a leak
of information could put in danger their relatives who remained
at home. Furthermore, due to the lack of sufficient information,
some IDPs may not have realised that they could register, or been
aware of the benefits that such registration could bring to them.
61. Another major problem is that data collected by local authorities
is neither unified nor disaggregated by age/gender/specific needs.
This largely limits its usefulness in determining assistance needs.
A full registration and profile of IDPs, including needs assessment,
is essential for any assistance to be effective.
62. According to the UNHCR, it has been reported that some Roma
people, namely those without identity documents, have had difficulties
in registering as displaced persons.
63. Only on 1 October 2014 did the Cabinet of Ministers adopt
a resolution on the registration of IDPs. In accordance with its
provisions, the Ministry of Social Policy took the lead in organising
registration, maintaining a unified database of registered IDPs,
and issuing them with a standard certificate. The ministry is working
in co-operation with the UNHCR on developing tools for registration
and data collection, as well as on the system for processing social
benefits. It is expected that the whole system will become operational
64. However, there is still room for further improvements to make
the registration system run smoothly, such as introducing online
application forms and mobilising volunteers to assist in the process.
65. Also on 1 October, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted a resolution
on financial assistance for temporary housing. As a result, all
adults registered as IDPs receive a monthly subsidy of 442 UAH (approximately US$34)
if they are actively seeking employment or have found employment
in their place of displacement, while individuals who are not able
to work (children, elderly and disabled people) receive 884 UAH
(approximately US$68) for six months.
66. While the financial assistance programme will provide important
assistance to individuals, it is still important to adopt a resolution
on paying the bills accumulated by collective centres over the last
few months. There was a Cabinet resolution on paying these costs
for IDPs from Crimea, but centres hosting IDPs from eastern Ukraine
have not been reimbursed.
67. However, paying the bills of collective centres will not
solve the most pressing problems of accommodation. Collective centres
are mostly summer camps and industrial hangars, unsuitable for cold weather
as they have no heating or hot water. Besides proper housing, the
IDPs need basic equipment, including mattresses, pillows, blankets,
bed linen, mobile electric generators (2-15 kW and 30-150 kW) with
a set of cable equipment, electric heater boilers and water treatment
68. In co-operation with UNHCR, the regional authorities in the
Kharkiv, Dnitropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia regions, Mariupol and the
accessible parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have refurbished
a number of facilities suitable for winter conditions. Furthermore,
the UNHCR has signed agreements with local authorities to begin
the adaptation of collective centres for IDPs for the winter.
69. With regard to non-food items, the UNHCR has dispatched more
than 10 000 wool blankets, 2 000 bed sheets and linen, 4 200 towels,
1 800 sets of clothing and 2 200 kitchen kits (in addition to 6
700 food packages) in response to the urgent needs of IDPs in the
Kharkiv, Dnitropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia regions. The distribution
is ongoing in the major reception areas and includes warm winter
70. Local authorities are increasingly requesting the assistance
of United Nations agencies as reliance on their own means and charity
organisations has reached its limits.
71. In a welcome development, on 20 October 2014, the Ukrainian
Parliament adopted the law “On the rights and freedoms of Internally
Displaced Persons”. The adoption of this law, including the related
legislation on taxation and humanitarian aid, constitutes an important
step forward in the process of dealing with displacement in Ukraine.
The law defines the full set of rights of IDPs, simplifies administrative
procedures, increases access to humanitarian support and sets out
the framework for the elaboration of long-term solutions. The law
will also pave the way for a broader government policy on resettling
IDPs or assisting them in returns.
72. In reaction to the increasing number of returns, on 10 October
2014, a government decree was enacted on facilitated issuance to
the citizens of Ukraine granted temporary asylum in the Russian
Federation, of documents about joining the State programme of return
of compatriots from abroad.
73. The massive return depends however on the reconstruction process,
which is a huge challenge for Ukraine’s weakened economy and volatile
security situation in some areas.
74. Ukraine should draw from the experience of other countries
which have been faced with similar problems and put in place vital
policies, frameworks, support structures and programmes for those
IDPs who will be able to return safely to their homes, or find alternative
durable solutions for those who may be prevented from returning.
It goes without saying that these long-term programmes, including
material, organisational and medical help, will require considerable
4 Ukrainian refugees
4.1 The Russian Federation
75. A considerable number of Ukrainian citizens from
the areas of armed conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk regions have
crossed the Russian border and found refuge mainly in the adjacent
territory. Again, it is not easy to ascertain the exact figures.
Ukrainians do not need a visa to enter Russia and many people choose
not to register as refugees, instead considering their displaced
status as temporary.
76. On the other hand, the question of refugees has been widely
covered by the Russian media often in a misleading manner. In April
2014, the Assembly report on the “Reconsideration on substantive
grounds of the previously ratified credentials of the Russian delegation”
referred to the report aired by the Russian television channel ORT
on 1 March 2014, showing hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees
who were reportedly fleeing to Russia. In an interview, a Russian
Federal Border Guard Service official said that an estimated 675 000
Ukrainians had already fled Ukraine and that they feared a growing
humanitarian crisis. However, the pictures of queues at the border
which were used to illustrate these claims turned out to be routine
queues at the Ukrainian/Polish border, Shegni-Medyka. The UNHCR
has not confirmed any irregular flows of people between Ukraine
and Russia and there had been no trace of these alleged refugees
until June 2014 when heavy fighting broke out in eastern Ukraine.
The ORT television channel never rectified this false information.
77. According to Federal Migration Service (FMS) statistics, as
at 10 September 2014, as many as 5 500 people submitted applications
for asylum and 115 successfully completed the procedure and were
granted asylum status. Furthermore, 150 000 persons applied for
temporary asylum and 110 000 individuals were granted this form
of protection. Approximately 60 000 refugees were accommodated in
78. These figures correspond to estimates provided by NGOs dealing
with refugees, according to which there may be as many as 150 000
to 170 000 Ukrainian refugees in need of protection in Russia.
79. In reaction to the increased flows of refugees, the Russian
authorities have undertaken a number of positive measures. On 22
July 2014, Resolution No. 690 established a simplified procedure
to grant temporary asylum for Ukrainians, which shortened waiting
time from three months to three days.
80. On 2 September 2014, Resolution No. 866 allowed the issue
of work permits for Ukrainians arriving in “urgent and mass circumstances”
and abandoned the system of quotas which had existed before. It
is too early to assess whether the provisions of the resolution
will be implemented in an unrestrictive manner, but its adoption
is certainly a step to be welcomed.
81. In another positive development, the FMS has allowed increased
co-operation with civil society organisations dealing with refugees,
associating them with various integration programmes. NGOs are also actively
involved in assisting refugees at different stages of the status
82. However, a number of concerns still exist. Firstly, access
to the status determination procedure is hindered by the fact that
in order to be able to submit an application for asylum, one has
to make an appointment in one of the specially created FMS centres.
Waiting time may be several months; according to the most recent
reports, in September 2014, the centres were booked out until May
2015. As a result, a shortened status determination procedure of
three days has to be added to a long period of waiting to be able to
submit an application.
83. Furthermore, there is no possibility to apply for asylum status
in certain areas including Moscow and St Petersburg.
84. Since August 2014, those successfully completing the status
determination procedure and who have been granted asylum have been
prevented from settling in areas of Moscow, St Petersburg or the
Rostov region, and instead they have been directed to distant regions
of Russia. This measure contradicts the Geneva 1951 Convention on
Refugees and the Russian Federal Law on Refugees, which allows for
the repartition of those in need of assistance between different
regions but does not allow for quotas for immediate asylum seekers.
As a result, some Ukrainian applicants who have been offered accommodation
by relatives or friends, or have had a job offer in Moscow or in
St Petersburg, have had to go to remote areas in which some professions
do not have much hope of finding jobs.
85. Another matter of concern is a compulsory medical exam which
asylum seekers have to undergo and for which they have to pay.
86. Those who are granted asylum are not systematically provided
with a valid identity document confirming their status, which may
contribute to their increased legal vulnerability. It also creates
obstacles to their benefiting from access to some services like
schools for children or public health care. According to official statistics,
up until September 2014, as many as 110 000 people had been granted
temporary asylum, while only 64 000 identity documents had been
87. Since the 5 September ceasefire agreement, increased population
movements from the Russian Federation to Ukraine have been observed.
However, it would appear that people travel in both directions,
with the intention either to return to Ukraine or to move to Russia.
4.2 Other European
88. According to statistics provided by the UNHCR since
the beginning of 2014, until 25 September 2014, as many as 3 397
Ukrainian citizens have applied for international protection in
38 European countries other than the Russian Federation, including
1 661 in Poland, 484 in Belarus, 80 in the Republic of Moldova and
30 in Hungary. Many others have applied for other forms of legal
stay, primarily in Belarus (25 000), in Poland (18 416), in Hungary
(5 586) and in the Republic of Moldova (5 344).
5 Population living
in the areas under separatists’ control
89. Before the outbreak of armed hostilities, about 5
million people lived in territory now controlled by separatists.
It is unclear how many remain. Many of those who did not flee belong
to the most vulnerable categories of population: the elderly and
the handicapped. There is little reliable information on their situation. Only
recently have international NGOs started to arrive and obtain the
required permits to establish presence and launch activities. However,
the extremely volatile security situation may impede the ongoing
A United Nations expert mission visited Donetsk on 10-12 November
2014 in order to identify reliable implementing partners for future
aid distribution. The mission established that the humanitarian
needs are significant and on the rise and that there is a serious
lack of capacity on the ground to implement humanitarian programmes.
The findings will be taken into account during the preparation of
the 2015 Strategic Response Plan coordinated by the United Nations.Note
91. Weeks of fighting have devastated the area, demolishing houses
and infrastructure. There is no electricity or water; the latter
being supplied by trucks irregularly. The population is very much
dependent on humanitarian aid. Health remains a primary concern,
as there is a lack of essential medicines and many hospitals and
clinics are closed because of the damage.
92. According to OSCE reports, a total of five Russian convoys
have entered and exited Ukraine. They were only inspected by the
Russian border guard and customs services, not by the Ukrainian
93. On 5 November 2014, Ukraine’s Prime Minister announced that
the government would freeze payments, mostly for public sector wages
and pensions that it had been sending to parts of eastern Ukraine
under separatists’ control. This move, seen as reaction to illegal
elections held by separatists, is likely to worsen the already dire
conditions in which the population is living.
6 Major humanitarian
concerns and prospects for the future
94. A necessary condition for any durable solution to
the present situation of population displacement is stability and
safety on the entire Ukrainian territory. As long as violence in
some regions continues, any prospects of sustainable returns and
reconstruction remain illusory. The Assembly has always privileged political
solutions, and therefore it should call on the intensification of
the ongoing political dialogue, and full implementation of the ceasefire
of 5 September 2014.
95. With regard to Crimea, the Council of Europe has repeatedly
confirmed its position on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
As a matter of urgency, the human rights situation on the peninsula
must be improved and conditions for return for those who have fled
must be created.
96. All violations and abuses of international human rights law
and fundamental freedoms must be scrupulously investigated and prosecuted,
including the indiscriminate shelling of civilians, killings, allegations of
sexual violence, the illegal seizure of property and the ill-treatment
97. In particular, ongoing investigations into the tragic incidents
in Maidan, Odessa, on the mass graves and instances of missing persons
must be successfully completed and the perpetrators brought to justice.
The International Advisory Panel is actively working to this end.
98. It is clear that Ukraine had not been prepared for the massive
displacement of its citizens and is unable to deal with the consequences
alone. In the present economic situation, it is unrealistic to expect
the country to be able to assure adequate conditions and assistance
for IDPs, and implement short- and long-term solutions.
99. In dealing with internal displacement, the central and local
authorities in Ukraine are supported by the UNHCR and other United
Nations agencies, as well as by a number NGOs and community-based organisations
from various regions in Ukraine. The total request for funding so
far has amounted to US$11.3 million. Only 69% of this sum has been
assured so far, which leaves a 31% funding gap which needs to be
filled. The international community should be urged to provide immediate
and long-term support for essential reconstruction efforts, projects
to restore water, electricity and other essential services. The Assembly
should call on Council of Europe member States and other donors
to provide funding for this assistance.
100. The economy of the eastern regions has been in steady decline
since April 2014. The damage caused to infrastructure, including
mines, bridges, roads, railways, railway stations, water towers,
pressure piping and burnt out agricultural land, makes any prospects
of recovery very complicated and costly. At present, many civilians
are left without gas, water supply, electricity, communications,
medicine, fuel and food. The destruction of public and private property
creates considerable obstacles for sustainable returns and requires
considerable investment. The closing of financial institutions,
post offices and other public institutions makes it impossible for
residents to get their pensions or benefits.
101. In light of the approaching winter, efforts should be focused
on providing assistance in key reception areas: Kharkiv, Dnitropetrovsk,
Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. According to the UNHCR, to prepare
for the winter, 40 collective centres will be repaired and refurbished
for the accommodation of IDPs. Winter clothing (10 000) and blankets
(100 000) will be distributed. Cash assistance programmes will be
expended to six more regions to continue the pilot programmes which
benefited some 1 600 of the most vulnerable IDPs.
102. More generally, recent developments in the country have negatively
affected the economy and the banking system. In the first quarter
of 2014, the national currency depreciated by 27% and food prices
have increased by 8.2% above 2013 levels. Ongoing gas disputes with
Russia cast further shadows on the Ukrainian economy. Meanwhile,
Ukraine signed an Association Agreement with the European Union
on 27 June 2014. The international community and the European Union
in particular should contribute to the recovery of the Ukrainian
103. The improvement of neighbourhood relations with Russia is
a necessary condition for the future of the country. This obviously
requires an unambiguous role of the Russian authorities in the settling
of the conflict. The two countries are locked in a dispute over
gas supplies. Differences in assessment of recent developments in
Ukraine are not helped by the lingering investigations into the
Maidan events and the tragic incidents that took place in Odessa
on 2 May 2014. However, political dialogue is the only way to get
out of the crisis.
104. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of wounded in the armed
conflict as at 26 September 2014 amounted to 8 198 people, including
82 children, many of whom require specialised help which is impossible
to get in the current state of affairs in Ukraine.
105. However, irrespective of international financial assistance,
a number of concerns require reaction by the national authorities.
According to UNHCR reports, IDPs from the east continue to report
discrimination in the rental market for houses and employment. The
UNHCR and its partners have held a round table with the national
press, during which several IDPs spoke about their experience, in
order to raise awareness about this problem. Training for IDPs about
their rights has also been given.
106. Together with its partner Crimea SOS, the UNHCR looked into
the difficulties encountered by IDPs when registering to vote in
the recent parliamentary elections. Thanks to their efforts, the
Central Electoral Commission has simplified the procedures, so that
persons with residence registration in Donetsk and Luhansk could
register to vote temporarily at a different location without providing
numerous documents. However, they could vote only for the party
lists, not for the single-member districts.
107. The situation of people in institutional care is a major concern.
Disabled people, orphans, the elderly and people in psychiatric
hospitals have all been moved from conflict-affected areas. The
UNHCR has identified several institutions caring for these people
which are in need of non-food support.
108. Until recently, Ukraine had been a country of transit and
destination for refugees and asylum seekers from non-European countries
of origin. The recent developments have undoubtedly had a huge impact
on their situation. In a positive development, on 13 May 2014, the
Parliament of Ukraine adopted amendments to the refugee law extending
the definition of complementary protection to include persons fleeing
armed conflict and other serious human rights violations. As a result,
the parliament brought the definition of complementary protection
into line with Council of Europe standards.
109. However, certain legal gaps still remain, affecting particularly
asylum procedure and reception conditions for asylum seekers. The
quality of the process of decision making on asylum applications
also remains a concern. In this context, the readmission procedures
should be given additional consideration.
110. An armed separatist movement supported by a neighbouring country
has created a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. In resolving it, the
national authorities must be assisted by all Council of Europe member