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Russia provides real assistance to Ukrainian refugees - foreign monitors

December 16, 2014, 17:00 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© Mikhail Pochuev/TASS

MOSCOW, December 16. /TASS/. “The world does not understand or does not wish to understand that Russia is providing real assistance to the Ukrainian refugees. You should not exaggerate things but just show everything as it is,” a visiting envoy of the UN High Commissioner’s Office for Refugees, Bais Vak-Voya, said on Monday during a working trip to Russia’s southern Rostov Region. In particular, he noted the high costs Russia was bearing to support the refugees.

As far as the real state of affairs is concerned, it is well seen in official statistics and comments by representatives of international organizations.

On Monday, the director of the Federal Migration Service (MFS) Konstantin Romodanovsky said that a total of 2.5 million citizens of Ukraine were currently present in Russian territory — one million more than a year ago. Of all the new arrivals 810,000 are residents of Ukraine’s south-east, he added.

According to the OUNHCR, there were 809,542 Ukrainian refugees in Russia on December 9, which agrees with the FMS statistics.

Romodanovsky said 225,000 Ukrainians of the 250,000 applicants have been granted temporary refuge in Russia. About 35,000 Ukrainians, including 11,000 minors, are at temporary shelters. Russia has given jobs to 109,580 citizens of Ukraine who have been forced to leave their country. Half of them — 57,953 — received employment with assistance from Russian government-run recruitment agencies, Labor and Social Protection Minister Maxim TopiIin said earlier.

Russia should not bear the burden of hosting Ukrainian refugees in its territory all alone. There must be international response, the PACE’s rapporteur for the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, Jim Sheridan, said after a tour of the Rostov Region. He said the PACE commission’s report compiled during the trip should draw the world’s attention to the problem of Ukrainian refugees.

Sheridan and the PACE delegation he led also visited Kiev, Kharkov and Moscow.

The situation in Ukraine looked complicated, indeed, and essential first-hand information was gathered indicating that many families and communities were separated, he said.

Sheridan spoke highly of the Russian authorities’ efforts to accommodate refugees from Ukraine. He described those efforts as extraordinary, adding he was applauding the generosity of the Russian people who had sheltered Ukrainian families and donated 76 million roubles to the Russian branch of the Red Cross.

In its December 9 report the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that in Ukraine internally displaced persons were experiencing problems with finding housing and jobs and their children were faced with unfriendly treatment at schools.

The number of internally displaced persons exceeds 500,000. According to the report, proper access to toilets and drinking water at some refugee accommodation centres is a concern, and some internally displaced persons hear demands they should pay for the utility services, the report says.

The position of Ukrainian refugees in Russia is fundamentally different from the conditions of internally displaced persons in Ukraine itself, international observers say.

“Our mission has visited dozens of cities and communities in Russia housing Ukrainian refugees: Rostov, Bryansk, Vladikavkaz, Belgorod, and Vladivostok, not to mention Moscow and St. Petersburg,” deputy chief of the UNHCR office in Russia, Melita Hummel-Sunjic, of Austria, has told TASS. “The Ukrainian refugees in Russia enjoy a legal status, access to medical services and school education for their children. In order to accelerate the Ukrainian refugees’ adaptation to local conditions Russia’s Federal Migration Service reorganized its work, increased staff and speeded up paperwork,” Hummel-Sunjic said.

“In contrast to refugees from other countries — Africa or Central Asia — Ukrainian refugees in Russia are in a privileged position. At the same time Russia has declined the UN offer of international humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian refugees and keeps shouldering the costs of their presence in its territory on its own.”

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