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Russia urges OSCE to pay attention to refugee situation in Ukraine

June 19, 2014, 18:35 UTC+3 MOSCOW
More than 19,000 refugees from war-torn regions of Ukraine have crossed into neighbouring Russia
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Ukrainian refugees

Ukrainian refugees

© ITAR-TASS/Valery Matytsin

MOSCOW, June 19./ITAR-TASS/. Russia urged the Monitoring Mission of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine to take effective steps to create humanitarian corridors for refugees in the eastern regions of the country where the Ukrainian army is continuing an operation against the local militia.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich described the humanitarian situation in the east of Ukraine as “catastrophic”, which was personally witnessed by OSCE Secretary-General Lamberto Zannier on June 12 during his short trip to the neighbouring Rostov region in Russia, where Ukrainian refugees have been fleeing to by the thousand in search of shelter.

Zannier visited one of the holiday homes in Russia’s southern Rostov region where more than 300 Ukrainian refugees have been accommodated. His dialogue with the refugees began with an outcry of the Ukrainian women who yelled at him after he had mentioned Poroshenko and said he was seeking peace.

“What kind of president is he if they are killing our people? … even though Ukrainian television says it’s not so,” Valentina Alfimova of Sloviansk said.

Another woman refugee, who identified herself as Natalia, the mother of two children, told ITAR-TASS, “We want to ask the OSCE Secretary-General to do his best so that we could go home. We are very grateful to Russia for receiving us and actually giving us such a warm treatment, but we want to go back home. We want this war to stop.”

Zannier said those responsible for crimes in Ukraine must be prosecuted and noted that the Church could play a constructive role in resolving the Ukrainian crisis.

We think that international efforts to help to settle the crisis, including the work of the OSCE Monitoring Mission, must be aimed at resolving the crisis by political methods though inclusive dialogue among all Ukrainian political forces and regions. Obviously, this chance will present itself only after the murderous punitive operation of the Ukrainian security forces has been stopped Alexander Lukashevich Foreign Ministry spokesman He also replied to a question from one of the Ukrainian refugees why the world had refused to recognise the results of the referendum in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Zannier said there were certain rules regulating the integrity of countries, under which a referendum should be conducted in accordance with the constitution. Otherwise any person and any family could organise a referendum.

Lukashevich expressed hope that the OSCE Monitoring Mission would pay special attention to this problem, thoroughly assess the situation and take effective steps “to help to open humanitarian corridors which have not been functioning despite repeating statements of the Kiev leadership that they do”.

“We think that international efforts to help to settle the crisis, including the work of the OSCE Monitoring Mission, must be aimed at resolving the crisis by political methods though inclusive dialogue among all Ukrainian political forces and regions. Obviously, this chance will present itself only after the murderous punitive operation of the Ukrainian security forces has been stopped,” Lukashevich said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and the rule of law Konstantin Dolgov said that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s promises to stop the operation and create humanitarian corridors in the south-east of Ukraine had not been fulfilled.

“The Ukrainian security forces and neo-Nazi are using prohibited weapons against people in Sloviansk, firing at refugees and killing children,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “Poroshenko’s promises to stop the punitive operation and create safe humanitarian corridors for refugees are not being fulfilled.”

Meanwhile, about 19,000 refugees from war-torn regions of Ukraine have crossed into neighbouring Russia.

“It’s hard to name the precise number, but my assessment is that it’s about 15,000 people, mainly women and children,” Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, told ITAR-TASS.

The Kremlin’s presidential chief of staff Sergei Ivanov said Russia would urge Kiev to create humanitarian corridors for refugees in the south-eastern regions.

“We will demand that the Ukrainian authorities create these corridors,” he said, adding that he admired the way Russian people were treating the refugees. “People remain warm and friendly towards Ukrainians. After all we share the same genetic code,” he said.

“We have to admit that even in their absence (of humanitarian corridors) people - women, children and the elderly - manage to cross the border in the ever growing numbers and turn to us for help, which we certainly provide,” Ivanov said.

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