Humanitarian refugees flee eastern Ukraine

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According to the United Nations, more than one million people have been displaced by the fighting in eastern Ukraine. Some 800,000 Ukrainians have fled to Russia, another 260,000 are displaced inside Ukraine.

Ole Solvang, senior emergency researcher for Human Rights Watch, returned from eastern Ukraine and reports how both Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels are contributing to the rising death toll in the besieged city of Luhansk, where many residents have not had electricity, gas and running water for weeks, and where food and fuel are running low. Solvang reports:

“Luhansk is a city held by the separatist forces that has been under siege by the Ukrainian army for several weeks now. But perhaps the biggest challenge for people living there is the ongoing shelling, killing and injuring civilians. A morgue doctor there had registered more than 300 civilians who had been killed in Luhansk city alone since the military operations started in May.

“Who is responsible? In many cases, it’s difficult to determine with certainty. I think there is, logically, if you look at the situation—the separatists are holding the city, the Ukrainian army is trying to retake the city, so, logically, I think that there is an assumption that rockets, artillery shells that fall within the city come from the Ukrainian army. The Ukrainian government is claiming that these are rebels firing into their own areas. There might be cases of that, but in most of the cases we looked at, the evidence pointed to the Ukrainian army.

“As to the vast number of refugees leaving Ukraine, they cite the difficult humanitarian situation in Luhansk, in particular, but most of them said that the determining factor for them was the increased shelling in their neighborhoods.”

[Excerpted from Democracy Now interview with Ole Solvang, senior emergency researcher for Human Rights Watch]

This entry was posted in by Grant Montgomery.

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