UNITED NATIONS, March 9. /TASS/. The United Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has expressed concern over Ukrainian government’s decision to suspend social payments for 150,000 internally displaced persons (IPDs) from Donbass.
"A new source of concern in February was the government’s announcement to suspend social payments for a significant number of IDPs. On 21 February, Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk informed of suspension of social payments to 150,000 IDPs due to anecdotal occurrences of fraud," OCHA said in its "Humanitarian Bulletin: Ukraine Issue" for February 2016.
"The alarming news about suspension of social payments to IDPs came only days after the Parliamentary hearings in Verkhovna Rada on 17 February dedicated to "the human rights situation of the internally displaced people and citizens of Ukraine," the report added. Despite the adoption of the Law of Ukraine "On amendments to certain laws of Ukraine to strengthen the guarantees of the rights and freedoms of internally displaced persons" in December, the government and ministers were heavily criticized for neglecting the needs and rights of IDPs, for the absence of strategies and budget allocations, fostering separation of NGCAs [non-government controlled areas] and not treating equally Ukrainian citizens living there and excessive bureaucratic impediments," OCHA added.
"Among the speakers, the UN was represented by the Resident Coordinator, Neal Walker and the Head of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU), Fiona Frazer. During the presentation, HRMMU made a particular focus on the human rights violations of people residing in NGCAs, the absence of rule of law there, the situation in Crimea as well as on residual obligations of the Ukrainian government towards all of its citizens regardless their place of residence," the report noted.
Kiev’s refusal to make social payments triggered a strong reaction from the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics (DPR and LPR). DPR people’s council speaker Denis Pushilin said that the official refusal of Ukrainian authorities to make social payments to IDPs from Donbass demonstrate that these people are no longer considered Ukrainian citizens.
OCHA said in its report that "a group of 16 Ukrainian civil society organizations involved in humanitarian aid issued an appeal to the Ukrainian government, asking the Ministry of Social Policy to immediately stop suspending IDPs certificates on the basis of data provided by the SSU and the SBGS as such practice is ‘clearly in violation of the Ukrainian law’."
"In February, the situation further deteriorated when the government temporarily closed the Mariinka and Zaytseve checkpoints in Donetsk Oblast for security reasons. This resulted in a backlog of vehicles and pedestrians attempting to cross the remaining two checkpoints, with some forced to wait as long as 36 hours on the road, in unbearable conditions," the report added. OCHA called on Ukrainian authorities to "limit closure of checkpoints to prevent hardship for civilians" reminding that "four civilians were killed on 10 February when their minivan drove over a landmine as they sought to avoid the long queue or vehicles near Mariinka checkpoint.".