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International support for Ukraine should increase – for overcoming the consequences of the pandemic and for the peaceful resolution of the armed conflict

Statement of the international civil society platform CivilM+

In April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the seventh year of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine has begun. While the emergency has revealed gaps in the healthcare system throughout the country, the situation in the conflict zone is nearly critical. The infrastructure has been damaged by the hostilities and there is a severe lack of medical personnel. Small and mediumsized enterprises which barely started recovering after the first years of the war with the support from humanitarian organizations, have been suffering losses and are on the brink of bankruptcy during the quarantine.

Of particular concern is the situation in territories that are not controlled by the government of Ukraine: there is no credible information about the situation there, freedom of expression is seriously limited, monitoring and humanitarian organizations, for example, OSCE SMM are facing problems with accessing and operating in the territory of the self-proclaimed ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’.

We, the undersigned members of the international civil society platform CivilM+, are calling on the Government of the EU member-states to:

  • allocate all the resources available to support the region in its fight with COVID-19. Along with the unconditional support of medical sphere, the aid should go to small and medium business, local Ukrainian authorities and civil society organizations
  • keep exerting pressure on the Russian Federation to make sure that ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’, which are under the RF control, provide unhindered access to humanitarian and monitoring organizations (firstly to the OSCE SMM, as well as to the ICRC so that it has access to all persons deprived of liberty), and stop arbitrary political persecutions.

We are also urging the Government of Ukraine to ensure that the restrictions of the freedom of movement across the contact line are only applied if they are necessary and proportionate to possible threats. All citizens, including those residing in non-government-controlled territory, should have unrestricted access to medical assistance.

We underline that new pandemic-related challenges should not diminish priority measures on the peaceful resolution of the conflict set out in the Minsk agreements and reconfirmed during the talks in the Normandy format. Those are:

  • ceasefire
  • continuation of the release of arbitrarily detained persons, both military and civil detainees
  • preventing further human rights violations and war crimes, and ensuring effective investigations into such crimes committed on both sides of the contact line
  • preparing the process of the transitional justice in all its aspects.

 

While welcoming the release of the detainees on 16 April 2020, we are drawing attention of the OSCE, as well as the governments of Germany and France that the bottom line should be the release of all individuals who are arbitrarily deprived of their liberty. To achieve this, we need to see consistent and coordinated efforts to complete the lists of detainees, to search and to identify their location. Having the control over ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’, the Russian Federation should influence them, as in a number of cases they refuse to admit having derived certain people of their liberty (despite the fact that the relatives of these people have confirmation papers issued by the de-facto authorities of the self-proclaimed ‘republics’). Moreover, ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’ refuse to release even those individuals whose names in the lists they have confirmed. As a result, it takes years for many detainees and their loved ones to wait for the ‘next stage of the exchange’.

Independent civil society organizations from Ukraine, Russia and the European Union are ready to provide civic consultations for the Minsk negotiations. The international platform CivilM+ has already sent the letters with this proposal to the Office of the President of Ukraine, to the Vice-prime minister/Minister on reintegration of the temporary occupied territories and to the Minister of foreign affairs. The position and the suggestions on these matters are also available on the CivilM+ website.

Signatories:

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Ukraine

Centre for Civil Liberties, Ukraine

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, Ukraine

Truth Hounds, Ukraine

‘Citizen and Army’, Russia

DRA, German-Russian Exchange, Germany

Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (HCA), France

Human Rights Centre ‘Memorial’, Russia

MEMORIAL Deutschland e.V., Germany

Background:

The international CivilM+ platform was established in 2017. It unites 19 organizations and three independent experts from Ukraine, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and France. Within the CivilM+ network, they contribute to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Donbas. In particular, they inform their governments and communities about the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, implement projects in the spheres of peacebuilding, transitional justice, dialogue and human rights.

https://www.facebook.com/civilmplus/

https://civilmplus.org/

For more information, please contact the Platform Secretariat: Yulia Erner, coordinator – yuliya.erner@austausch.org With media-requests, please contact Iryna Yakovlieva, communications coordinator – iryna.yakovlieva@austausch.org

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