Lithuanian and the Ukrainian Ombudspeople visited conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine

12 November 2018

IMG 0059The Seimas Ombudsman Augustinas Normantas and the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmila Denisova conducted a joint humanitarian monitoring mission to Donetsk and Luhansk regions on 8-9 November 2018 with an aim to observe and assess human rights situation therein.

The ombudspeople reported a lack of appropriate infrastructure at the ‘Mayorsk’ checkpoint on the contact line where around 10,000 people cross it daily. “Sometimes, they have to wait in a queue for hours,” – pointed out the ombudspeople.

It should be noted that ‘Mayorsk’ checkpoint is one of the busiest in Donbas. Russia-backed militants are regularly shelling it. In August, the checkpoint was shut down several times because of the attacks.

The delegation met the Commander of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) Serhiy Nayev who informed the international delegation about the powers of servicepersons in the JFO area, as well as about the work of checkpoints. According to him, due to a rise in the number of people crossing checkpoints, the decision was approved to increase the number of personnel at all checkpoints. Besides, at two checkpoints, namely in ‘Mariynka’ and ‘Stanytsa Luhanska’, the reconstruction of infrastructure has been carried out. The ombudspeople noted the importance of the decision on extending the working time of checkpoints when there is a large number of people.

The Seimas Ombudsman A. Normatas emphasised that the monitoring visit to the region helped to understand better the problems the people face with close to the contact line. The Lithuanian Ambassador Marius Janukonis noted that Ombudspeople were able to discover the humanitarian consequences of Russian aggression personally and it is essential to bring the attention of the international community to the repercussions of the conflict.

During the monitoring visit, ombudspeople also called on the ‘Stanytsa Luhanska’ pedestrian checkpoint on the contact line, which is crossed by 10000 to 13000 people daily, and met with the local authorities. The Ombudspeople noted that significant improvements of infrastructure had been done with the help of the Ukrainian authorities and international organisations. At the same time, better coordination between institutions in distributing social assistance is needed. 

“The capacity of a provision of social assistance should be increased, as well as the number of toilet facilities and medical aid points, where people would be able to get rest and warm up”, – emphasised the Lithuanian and the Ukrainian counterparts.  

The human rights monitoring visit was conducted with the aim of raising awareness of the ongoing military conflict in Eastern Ukraine, causing human rights violations. The monitoring visit was carried out within the framework of the European Union Twinning project “Implementation of the Best European Practices with the Aim of Strengthening the Institutional Capacity of the Apparatus of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights to Protect Human Rights and Freedoms (Apparatus)”, which is being implemented by a team of Lithuanian and Austrian human rights institutions under the leadership of Augustinas Normantas, the Seimas (Parliamentary) Ombudsman of Lithuania.

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