Human drama for people near contact line in Ukraine intolerable, say OSCE PA humanitarian leaders in Kyiv

KYIV, 3 June 2019 – Margareta Kiener Nellen and Kyriakos Hadjiyianni, the Chair and Rapporteur of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee, respectively, today wrapped up a five-day mission to Ukraine, which included visits to the contact line in the east of the country, a centre for internally displaced persons, and medical facilities. Following the visit, which was supported by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), the PA delegation stressed that renewed conflict resolution efforts, freedom of movement for civilians, and concrete humanitarian measures are urgently needed in Ukraine.

Meeting with human rights organizations in the region, including the NGO Proliska and the Norwegian Refugee Council, Kiener Nellen and Hadjiyianni discussed the international community’s efforts to provide assistance to conflict-affected populations in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In addition to discussions with government and parliamentary officials in Kyiv, they also met with the new Chief Monitor of the SMM Ambassador Yasar Halit Cevik, ICRC Head of Delegation Florence Gillette, and Head of UNHR Monitoring Mission in Ukraine Fiona Frazer.

Ukraine bridgeDestroyed bridge and only point of passage for civilians, 1 June 2019When visiting the Stanytsia Luhanska Entry-Exit Checkpoint (EECP) in the east of the country, the issue of freedom of movement for the civilian population was under scrutiny since a precarious pedestrian bridge is the only passage along the contact line in the entire Luhansk region. They witnessed the long queue of people waiting to cross, the heavily mined surroundings, as well as the unbearable conditions for the elderly and the disabled persons. They experienced the exhausting walk between the parking lots on both sides, which is exposed to the sun and heat with little shade, and saw people trespassing into mined-marked terrain in search of a few minutes of rest under the shade of nearby trees.

“Repairs at the bridge at the Stanytsia Luhanska EECP and the opening of additional points of passage such as the Schastye bridge near Luhansk or the Zolotoye EECP in the Donetsk region are urgently needed. If the sides respect the human rights of the population, these very concrete steps must be implemented rapidly. With the hottest months of the year still ahead of us, immediate action must be taken to stop the human drama of further deaths and de facto torture at this crossing point,” said Kiener Nellen, who serves as Switzerland’s Head of Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

Hadjiyianni, a member of parliament from Cyprus, called for the protection and maintenance of critical infrastructure such as water filtration facilities and power plants for the survival of the Donbas region. Often adjacent to military positions, this infrastructure is threatened by shelling and the workers ensuring the much-needed repairs are under threat. In mid-April, five employees were wounded in an attack on the Donetsk water filtration plant.

“Such violations of international humanitarian law must stop. A durable ceasefire is the precondition to improving the quality of life for people and a safe environment necessary for ensuring the dignity of the living conditions in the region. Life in a heavily militarized environment is already generating immense physical and psychological damage to the populations in the conflict affected areas,” he said.

Stanytsia Luhanska 1 June 2019Briefing before entering the Entry-Exit Check Point Stanytsia Luhanska, 1 June 2019The PA delegation met in Kyiv with Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmyla Denisova, Vice-Chair of the OSCE PA Second Committee and Head of the Ukrainian Delegation to the OSCE PA Artur Gerasymov, and Borys Tarasyuk, a member of parliament and former Foreign Minister. Discussions with Ukrainian officials focused on human rights and humanitarian aspects of the conflict and prospects for bringing it to a close. Kiener Nellen and Hadjiyianni stressed the importance of fully implementing the Minsk Agreements and to pursue a political resolution of the five-year old conflict.

The issue of mines also featured prominently during the visit. Ukraine is one of the most severely mine-affected places in the world, with the most recorded anti-vehicle mine incidents for three years in a row and the third globally for overall casualties, behind only Afghanistan and Syria. It is estimated by national authorities that about 7,000 sq. km. in the government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblast in eastern Ukraine are contaminated with mines and explosive remnants of war.

This week’s mission in Ukraine is the eighth time PA officials have visited the country since January 2018. Kiener Nellen and Hadjiyianni visited Ukraine in December 2018 for a humanitarian-focused mission and the PA observed both rounds of this year’s presidential election.

President George Tsereteli led two delegations to the country last year and Special Representative on Gender Issues Hedy Fry visited last July.

The findings of this mission will be presented during the 28th Annual Session in Luxembourg. Photos are available on Flickr.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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