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Concern at the consequences of the ongoing conflict for the humanitarian situation in Ukraine

The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, meeting in Strasbourg on 24 June 2014, and basing itself on the hearing it held with the participation of a representative of the UNHCR and a representative of the Ukrainian NGO “Union of the IDPs”, adopted the following declaration:

“The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons expresses its concern at the consequences of the ongoing conflict for the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

The displacement of large numbers of the Ukrainian population, both from the Crimea and from the south-eastern regions of Ukraine is having a growing impact on the humanitarian situation of the country as a whole. According to UNHCR statistics, as of 23 June 2014, the overall number of internally displaced persons in Ukraine amounted to 46 100; including over 11 500 -mainly Crimean Tartars- who had fled the Crimea after its annexation by Russia, and some 34 600 residents of the south-eastern regions. The actual figures are much higher as many of those displaced do not register themselves, relying instead on assistance from relatives or friends.

While the population in other parts of Ukraine usually demonstrates exemplary hospitality towards the IDPs, the State’s ability to protect them shows considerable shortcomings and limits. There is an urgent need for a better co-ordinated response at central level including the establishment of harmonised rules for the registration of and assistance to IDPs across the country. International humanitarian assistance is also needed.

The Committee stresses that the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions is particularly worrying, and it has been deteriorating since the so called “referendum” and the subsequent illegal declaration of independence by the self-proclaimed separatist authorities of the two provinces. There has been a significant increase in criminal activity by armed groups resulting in abductions, detentions, acts of ill-treatment, torture and killing, all of which is affecting the wider population in the area.

Furthermore, the area is affected by regular and intense fighting as the Ukrainian army tries to restore control over these regions and the local population is increasingly caught-up in the cross-fire between the military forces and armed separatists. Given that both sides have heavy equipment in their possession, the fights are seriously threatening the security of civilians. 356 people have been killed including 257 civilians, as of 10 June 2014.

Increasingly damaged infrastructure and property creates serious risks to sanitations conditions. Access to health and social services has been dramatically reduced.
The breakdown of Ukrainian control of its border with Russia along the aforementioned provinces and alleged traffic of heavy weapons and militants is a key concern.

The Committee has welcomed the Peace Plan put forward by Ukrainian President Poroshenko toward a peaceful settlement of the situation in the eastern regions of Ukraine.

Hoping for its implementation, The Committee decides to follow closely the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, as well as the situation of Ukrainian refugees who have crossed the borders seeking refuge mainly in Russia, but also in other countries. It has agreed to table a motion for resolution with a view to preparing a report on the subject.”