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PACE envoy on Ukraine humanitarian situation heads to Russia to discuss refugee problem

December 08, 2014, 8:28 UTC+3 STRASBOURG
PACE rapporteur on the humanitarian situation of Ukrainian refugees and displaced persons Jim Sheridan will visit the Russian capital and the southern Russian Rostov Region
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Ukrainian refugees at the border with Russia in August 2014

Ukrainian refugees at the border with Russia in August 2014

© ITAR-TASS/Dmitry Rogulin/Archive

Infographics How to get refugee status in Russia How to get refugee status in Russia
About 10 thousand people filed applications with the Federal Migration Service (FMS) of Russia for refugee status in the recent 6 months. Infographics by ITAR-TASS

STRASBOURG, December 8. /TASS/. Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) rapporteur on “the humanitarian situation of Ukrainian refugees and displaced persons” Jim Sheridan (United Kindgom) is heading to Moscow on Monday, PACE reported.

During a two-day trip, Sheridan will visit the Russian capital and the southern Russian Rostov Region, where he will discuss the situation around the reception of Ukrainian refugees.

“Russia has received large numbers of persons fleeing the conflict in eastern Ukraine,” PACE said in a statement last week.

“According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) on 1 December, over 228,000 persons had sought asylum in Russia from Ukraine, with over 215,000 more staying in Russia on some other basis,” the statement said.

“The International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) reports that the greatest number of displaced persons is in Rostov (almost 49,000), and that over 272,000 people have applied to the local authorities and the Russian Red Cross for possible relief assistance — most are in need of such basic items as warm clothes and shoes, blankets, and hygiene and sanitary items,” it said.

“In Moscow, the rapporteur will meet members of the Russian delegation to PACE, representatives of the Federal Migration Service, local representatives of relevant international organizations and representatives of NGOs,” the statement said.

“In Rostov, he will meet representatives of local government and visit a refugee temporary accommodation center,” PACE said December 5. According to the regional government, there are over 39,000 nationals of Ukraine in the region, including more than 11,000 children and 387 disabled persons.

“Mr Sheridan will present an addendum to his report to the Migration Committee when it meets during the Assembly’s January 2015 session. This addendum will provide information on this visit to the Russian Federation, as well as on his earlier visit to Ukraine (17-18 November 2014),” the PACE statement said.

Sheridan’s previous visit to Ukraine

During his earlier visit to Ukraine, the PACE rapporteur in particular visited the Kharkiv Region in Ukraine, where more than 110,000 internally displaced persons are accommodated. After his visit, he stressed that Europe underestimates the seriousness of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, which the country faces due to the continuing conflict in Donbass (Donetsk and Luhansk regions).

Sheridan said that even prior to the current crisis, Ukraine needed reforms in administration, anti-corruption efforts, the judicial system and economics. The crisis made the necessity of reforms more urgent, he said.

The rapporteur pointed to the necessity to ensure a ceasefire in order to settle the crisis and stop human rights violations committed by both regular army and paramilitary formations on territories controlled by south-eastern militiamen.

Humanitarian situation assessments

Meanwhile, the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons has drafted a resolution on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, which will be put to consideration by parliamentarians at the winter session of PACE on January 26-30.

The document contains a call on both parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict to swap all prisoners, objectively investigate numerous deaths and disappearances of civilians, as well as the appearance of mass graves.

In early September, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the number of people who left their homes as a result of the conflict in eastern Ukraine exceeded 1 million, with 260,000 of them being internally displaced persons. Overall, 121,200 people asked Russia for the status of refugees.

At the same time, in January-July, more than 4,000 Ukrainian nationals asked for asylum in European Union countries, whereas over the entire past year, there were only 903 such requests. The Office of the UNHCR said most asylum requests from Ukrainians were received by Poland (over 1,000), Germany (more than 550) and Sweden (500).

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that as of late November, some 5.2 million people remained in the area of hostilities in the east of Ukraine.

The OCHA underlined that Kiev’s decision to stop the operation of state institutions from December 1 and evacuate their employees from militias-controlled areas will entail serious consequences for human rights and the humanitarian situation and will increase vulnerability of the population.

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