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South-east Ukraine: the ceasefire must be respected to ease the humanitarian crisis

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) today expressed its deep concern about the worsening humanitarian situation of those affected by the conflict in some parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, in particular refugees, internally displaced persons and those living in the regions controlled by pro-Russian illegal armed groups. In doing so, it noted the “direct involvement” of the Russian Federation in the emergence and worsening of the situation in these parts of Ukraine.

In a resolution adopted on the basis of the report by Jim Sheridan (United Kingdom, SOC), PACE urged the parties to the conflict to “fully respect and implement the ceasefire provided by the Minsk agreements of 5 and 19 September 2014 and refrain from the use of violence, particularly against civilians and civilian infrastructure,” stressing that respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity was an essential precondition for improving the humanitarian situation.

Over 921,000 people have been displaced within Ukraine and more than 524,000 have fled to the Russian Federation following the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the conflict in south-east Ukraine. The Assembly points out that more than two million people remain in the regions controlled by the separatist forces, exposed to insecurity, serious human rights violations and inadequate living conditions. It also deplored the deterioration of the human rights situation in Crimea, calling upon both the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the international community to continue monitoring this situation.

In view of this situation, the Parliamentary Assembly calls on the parties to the conflict to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, to grant humanitarian actors unimpeded access to all conflict areas and to guarantee the right of all displaced persons to return in complete safety. In particular, it calls upon the Russian Federation to refrain from destabilising Ukraine and financing and militarily supporting illegal armed groups, and to use its influence on them to make them fully respect and implement the Minsk agreements.

Lastly, PACE calls on the Russian authorities immediately to release Nadiya Savchenko and other illegally detained Ukrainian citizens.