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Refugees return to Ukraine as situation normalises in eastern regions

September 30, 2014, 21:00 UTC+3 DONETSK
At least 26,000 forced migrants have returned to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine from Russia over the past week
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Refugees return home

Refugees return home

© ITAR-TASS/Valery Matytsin

DONETSK, September 30. /ITAR-TASS/. At least 26,000 forced migrants have returned to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine from Russia over the past week, Darya Morozova, the chairwoman of the DPR committee on refugees and prisoners of war, said Tuesday.

“Some 26,000 people have already returned home. We also register the growth of lines at checkpoints between our republic and Russia from those willing to return,” Morozova told ITAR-TASS. She also said the number of those willing to leave the DPR has considerably gone down.

“Earlier, we organized bus trips to the Russian Federation nearly each day, but now we only do that once a week, as the number of those who want to leave the city has considerably decreased,” she said.

“Moreover, in some districts of Donetsk and Makeyevka, there are traffic jams, which means people are gradually returning home,” the official said.

Situation normalises in Ukraine’s east

Peace settlement process has intensified in Ukraine’s southeast as the region’s authorities start rebuilding the Donbass.

According to reports from regional centers in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, authorities manage to coordinate activities to normalise the situation. Salaries and pensions are being paid on a regular basis. Work is underway to rebuild schools and childcare centers.

UN report on situation in eastern Ukraine

According to United Nations data, as of early September, the number of people who have left their homes as a result of an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine exceeded 1 million people.

The UN says some 3,500 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s war-torn southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR).

Peace plan

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on cessation of fire and exchange of prisoners during talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

Infographics Map of combat actions in Ukraine's east on September 22-28 Map of combat actions in Ukraine's east on September 22-28
Eastern Ukraine's Donetsk was shelled on September 28. Artillery fire hit Kuibyshevsky district of the city. Infographics by TASS
The long hoped-for ceasefire took effect the same day, but reports said it has occasionally been violated.

On September 20 in Minsk, the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum outlining the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.

The document contains nine points, including in particular a ban on the use of all armaments and their withdrawal 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

The document was signed by OSCE representative to Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini, ex-Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, Russia’s ambassador in Kiev Mikhail Zurabov, DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko and LPR head Igor Plotnitsky.

The talks also involved first deputy DPR premier Andrey Purgin and LPR Supreme Council chairman Alexey Karyakin.

Ukraine’s parliament on September 16 granted a special self-rule status to certain districts in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions for three years. Elections to local self-government bodies were set for December 7. The Verkhovna Rada also passed a law on amnesty for participants of combat activities in Ukraine’s troubled eastern regions.

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