Ukraine conflict uproots nearly 1mn

Monday, February 09, 2015
UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards briefing journalists
[PHOTO: UNifeed]
Geneva/Kiev: Fierce fighting in the central Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine is creating new displacement, pushing the number of registered internally displaced people (IDPs) in Ukraine close to one million, the UN refugee agency has said.

"Ukraine's Ministry of Social Policy now puts the total number of registered IDPs countrywide at 980,000 – a figure that is expected to rise further as more newly-displaced people are still being registered. In addition, some 600,000 Ukrainians have sought asylum or other forms of legal stay in neighbouring countries, particularly the Russian Federation, but also Belarus, Moldova, Poland, Hungary and Romania, since February 2014," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.

UNHCR teams report that heavy fighting in the Donetsk region in the country's east over the last two weeks has resulted in massive destruction of buildings and infrastructure and in the collapse of basic services.

So far, more than 2,800 civilians, including about 700 children and 60 disabled people, have been evacuated from the towns of Debaltseve, Avdiivka and Svitlodar, which have seen fierce combat. Several incidents of shelling of buses carrying the evacuees have been reported. Local authorities also confirmed that evacuation transportation could not reach Avdiivka on Tuesday because of the fighting.

The lack of access to public services previously provided by the central authorities has drastically worsened the plight of the civilian population in areas not under government control. This has been further aggravated by restrictions to the movement of people and goods. The surge in fighting has further limited the supply of urgently needed goods in the conflict areas.

UNHCR has called on all parties to the conflict to refrain from any actions that might endanger the life of civilians and to adhere to the principles of international humanitarian law.

To respond to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and address some of the most urgent needs of the people displaced by the conflict, UNHCR will be launching a supplementary appeal for USD 41.5 million for 2015. -UNifeed
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