Donbass has always been famous for its industrial potential, occupying the first lines in the statistics of growth rates and industrial production volumes. On the territory of the region there are production facilities that once supplied the Ukrainian SSR with unique high-quality products and provided a significant part of export earnings to the budget. The railways and highways of Donetsk and Lugansk regions are the most numerous and the longest in Ukraine, representing a lively center for the transportation of raw materials and finished products.
During 2014-2016 Donbass land was subjected to massive shelling by Ukraine. Some factories were damaged due to the shelling, other – lost necessary infrastructure and were de-energized: railway tracks were destroyed and power transmission lines were damaged in fighting. The situation was aggravated by the so-called “war of checkpoints”, which made it difficult for citizens to move between cities.
Apparently, the Ukrainian side considered these measures to be insufficient. In the end of January, a group of Ukrainian radicals, including deputies of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, blocked a cargo railroad preventing the import of coal. Imposing the blockade, they planned to worsen the already difficult living conditions of civilians. Ignoring huge losses for the economy of their own country, the blockade organizers will do anything to create additional obstacles to the development of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Their actions can be regarded as a violation of international humanitarian law, which prescribes protection of the civilian population from consequences of the military conflict.
In terms of international law, the blockade is a special form of warfare, which consists in isolating the object in order to prevent its external relations. The blockade, if it is not introduced as one of the measures imposed by the UN Security Council, is regarded as an act of aggression.
Under the international law, the Ukrainian government is obliged to take measures to stop the blockade. Article 86 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva conventions of 12 August 1949, (Protocol 1) provides: «The High Contracting Parties and the Parties to the conflict shall repress grave breaches, and take measures necessary to suppress all other breaches, of the Conventions or of this Protocol which result from a failure to act when under a duty to do so».
Article 14 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva conventions of 12 August 1949 (Protocol 2) provides for the protection of facilities necessary for the survival of civilians. Infrastructure of large industrial cities fits this category.
Like other actions of the Ukrainian side, aimed at aggravation of social, economic and humanitarian situation in the region, the blockade may affect citizens. The rights of citizens, who live in the DPR, are under protection of the DPR Ombudsman.
Citizens can apply to the Ombudsman in any suitable way. Now, the majority of applications is still verbal and submitted through personal reception either with the Ombudsman or the heads of the Office, addressing the Public Complaints and Appeals Department, via hotlines and via web-reception on the Website of the Ombudsman. There is a possibility to submit a written complaint that may be submitted either in person or via e-mail. Since the beginning of 2017 the Ombudsman received 1085 appeals. Between 4 and 11 March 2017, 7 persons have visited the Ombudsman in person 30 of the claims were accepted by the Appeals department, 42 calls were made via hotlines, 23 applications were received via e-mail. 15 written applications were taken into consideration, 3 have been considered among those received earlier, 15 DPR citizens were provided with legal consultation.
All appeals received can be divided into four categories: violations in criminal law – 42 appeals, violations in civil law– 112 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 2 appeals, social and humanitarian issues – 929 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of the DPR Ombudsman as of 3.03.2017
Violations in criminal law
Violations in civil law
Administrative and legal violations against citizens
Issues of social and humanitarian affairs
Among all incoming correspondence to the Ombudsman of the DPR, the one which deals with the issues of exercise of social rights of citizens and violations of these rights is the most frequent. These issues are: pension and social payments – 120 appeals, accommodation for temporary residence – 196 appeals, the order of a complaint submission and paperwork in case of property destruction – 22 appeals, humanitarian assistance – 20 appeals, employment – 39 appeals, paperwork on travelling documents – 3 appeals, search of the missing – 41 appeals, loss of IDs – 111 appeals, housing issues – 68 appeals, temporary residence permit – 48 appeals, other social and humanitarian issues – 261 appeals (diagram 2).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens on social and humanitarian isses, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 3.03.2017
pension and social payments
search of the missing soldiers
search of the missing civilians
temporary residence permit
paperwork in case of property destruction
paperwork on travelling documents
loss of IDs
other social and humanitarian issues
The majority of complains is traditionally received from Donetsk by territory (Diagram 3).
The number of appeals (complains, applications) from citizens, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 3.03.2017
- Statistics and analysis of destroyed infrastructure objects
Targeted shelling by Ukrainian forces that cause destruction of private property and infrastructure – this is how looks the reality of the front-line regions of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
On 5 March as a result of mortaring by Ukrainian servicemen, the power lines near Donetsk filtration plant were damaged, the station was de-energized again.
On 6 March residents of Sakhanka, Dzerzhinskoye, Leninskoye, Zaichenko and Kominternovo of Novoazovsk region of DPR were cut from electricity as a result of shelling by Ukrainian forces.
Overnight into 7 March Yasnoye and Yelenovka villages were partially left without electricity as a result of shelling by SSU. In the evening of 7 March a boiler house was de-energized in Yasnoye village.
In the evening of 8 March as a result of shelling by Ukrainian forces gas distribution line was damaged in Kominternovo of Novoazovsk region, the south of the Republic, 115 houses were left without gas.
Overnight into 9 March as a result of shelling in Petrovskiy region of Donetsk 20 transforming substations were damaged. About three thousand houses and two boiler houses were de-energized. As a result of provocative fire from Ukraine, residents of Kominternovo village of Novoazovsk region, the South of the DPR, were left without gas and electricity supply.
As of 9 March 2017 more than 11217 infrastructure objects were partly destroyed (damaged) as a result of hostilities.
More than 6770 objects have been destroyed in Donetsk, 268 units in Debaltsevo, 521 units in Gorlovka, 70 units in Dokuchayevsk, 291 units in Yenakievo, 91 units in Zhdanovka, 72 units in Kirovskoye, 1068 units in Makeyevka, 54 units in Snyezhnoye, 118 units in Torez, 747 units in Khartsysk, 74 units in Shakhtyorsk, 574 units in Yasynovataya, 277 units in Amvrosyevka region, 3 units in Volnovakha region, 24 units in Maryinka region, 17 units in Novoazovsk region, 52 units in Starobeshevo region, 93 units in Telmanovo region, 33 units in Shakhtyorsk region.
Destroyed objects by branches:
– 6131 houses;
– 760 power lines and points of distribution of electricity;
– 174 heating supply facilities;
– 48 water supply facilities;
– 2669 gas supply facilities;
– 11 wastewater disposal and sewerage facilities;
– 101 healthcare facilities;
– 492 general educational institutions (schools, kindergartens);
– 54 vocational and technical educational institutions;
– 58 higher educational institutions;
– 25 physical and sport education institutions;
– 53 cultural institutions;
– 237 road and transport infrastructure objects;
– 58 industrial objects;
– 88 trade objects;
– 258 objects in other spheres.
According to the official data as of 9 March 2017 there are 2779 units of governmental and communal ownership damaged, 512 – rebuilt and 2267 – are to be rebuilt.
- Estimates of mortality, wounds to civilians and soldiers as a result of hostilities in the territory of the Donetsk People`s Republic.
Almost every day the DPR Ombudsman’s Office records cases of violations of rights of Donbass citizens by Kiev authorities: right to life, to security of the person, to the inviolability of the home.
On 2 March two DPR servicemen of 41 and 36 years old sustained shrapnel wounds as a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region.
On 4 March a DPR serviceman born in 1986 sustained a perforating gunshot wound in Avdeevka industrial zone.
Not far from Styla village of Starobeshevskiy region, a DPR serviceman of 32 years old sustained multiple shrapnel wounds to upper and lower limbs, left side of the chest, neck and head as a result of a mine blast.
On 5 March a DPR serviceman born in 1989 sustained mine-blast trauma, comminuted fracture of both left shin bones, bruise of the left shoulder, as a result of hostilities near Yasinovataya.
On 6 March a civilian woman born in 1960 sustained a mine-blast trauma, shrapnel wound of the anterior abdominal wall as a result of shelling by the SSU against Krutaya Balka near Yasinovataya.
As a result of shelling against checkpoint of Yasinovataya by the Ukrainian forces, a DPR serviceman of 31 years old sustained a gunshot wound of the lumbar-sacrum, penetrating wound of the abdominal.
As a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region 2 DPR servicemen of 45 and 24 years old sustained shrapnel wounds.
On 8 March during the shelling against Kuibyshev region of Donetsk a civilian woman born in 1953 sustained injuries and abrasions of the right scapular region.
Within the period of 2-9 March 2017, 10 persons, including 2 civilian women and 8 DPR servicemen, sustained injuries of various severities in the territory of the DPR as a result of constant Ukrainian shelling.
Within the period between 1 January and 9 March 2017, 126 persons. Among them, there were 71 DPR servicemen and 55 civilians, including 4 children under 18.
Within the period between 3 and 9 March 2017, 6 DPR servicemen died in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 9 March 2017, 66 persons, including 61 DPR servicemen and 5 civilians died in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4355 persons died. Among them, there were 595 women and 3760 men, including 74 children under eighteen.
Officially confirmed information on individuals who have been wounded since the beginning of the conflict continues to be reported to the Ombudsman Office in DPR. The information is being processed at the moment and it will be included into general statistics of the injured individuals.
- Register of the prisoners of war and missing soldiers and civilians
The issue the of exchange of prisoners of war regarding the military conflict in Donbass that started as a result of the coup d’état in Kiev, is regulated by the Minsk Agreements, that oblige the parties to the conflict to conduct an exchange in the “all for all” format. Keeping record of prisoners and missing persons is one of the primary objectives of the DPR Ombudsman’s Office during the military conflict.
During the week, the DPR Ombudsman’s Office received two appeals on capture of citizens.
A civilian man born in 1965 was arrested by the Ukrainian forces in February 2017. The man is accused of frequent phone conversations with people who live in the Donetsk People’s Republic. Relatives of the man born in 1978 lost touch with him in February 2017. It is known that the man is a disabled person of the 2nd group and he was going home after the examination in Kharkiv. The Ombudsman’s Office was reported on two more persons, who were kept under custody in the territory of Ukraine.
Three communications on missing persons were received by the Ombudsman’s Office. Three men were reported to be missing between 2014 and 2015.
Based on the updated figures as of 10.03.2017, 794 persons are kept by the Ukrainian side including:
– 476 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
– 261 persons, whose whereabouts are unknown or are being clarified by the Ukrainian side.
– 57 persons, for whom a request has been made to the Ukrainian side.
As of 10 March 2017, 468 persons are considered missing.
The Ombudsman`s Office continues to clarify information about the individuals, who were detained by the Ukrainian side, the statistics may change.
The DPR Ombudsman`s Office will no longer publicly categorize the detainees by “serviceman”, “arrested for political reasons”, “civilian irrelevant to the conflict” due to safety considerations.
- Register of forcibly displaced persons.
Perpetual wars in Europe, which are characterized as extremely cruel to civilians, prompted the heads of the European powers to create the Geneva Conventions, so that the horrors of the Second World War would never happen again. Thus, the norms of the International Humanitarian Law were created. They prescribe: amelioration of the condition of the wounded and sick in the armies; amelioration of the condition of the wounded, sick and shipwrecked from the armed forces at sea; the order of treatment of prisoners of war; protection of civilians during the war.
Above all, international law obliges the belligerent parties to distinguish between “combatants” and “non-combatants”, i.e. groups that are parties to an armed conflict and civilians. The term “civilian population” includes civilians who do not belong to any of the categories of legitimate participants of armed conflicts and who do not take part in hostilities directly. Their legal status is regulated by the Geneva Conventions on the Protection of War Victims, 1949 – IV Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Violence cannot be used against non-combatants; they must be protected as much as possible from consequences of the armed conflict. Only military objects may be subject to attack.
Article 3 of the present convention provides: «In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed “hors de combat” by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria».
In 1993, the UN Security Council included the convention in the customary rules of International Law, which made it mandatory for execution not only for the signatory countries, but for all other countries involved in military conflicts.
In practice, unfortunately, belligerent parties do not always adhere to the rules of International Law. As a result, civilian population is affected. The war in Donbass was not exception: people who live near the frontline are still subject to shelling. Ukrainian troops do not distinguish between civilian and military targets and attack densely populated areas. Saving their lives, civilians move to back areas.
1378 IDPs now live in temporary accommodation, including 285 underage children. Since the beginning of the conflict, 5043 persons were accommodated in TACs of the Ombudsman`s Office, 149 of them – in 2017. All the TACs are under the DPR Ombudsman’s inspection. The staffs of the Office monitor the TACs on the weekly basis, with the view to respond promptly to the citizens’ needs.
During the period of work between 4th and 11th March 2017, 55 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons, 2 of them were accommodated in the TACs of the Ombudsman`s Office in Donetsk.
There are currently 1180 housing spots available for IDPs. Among them: 1124 – in DPR temporary accommodation centres (including TACs of Ombudsman`s Office); 261 – in TACs of the Ombudsman`s Office; 56 – in housing fund of the DPR.
It is necessary to remind that there are 7984 persons, including 2099 children under eighteen registered since the beginning of the conflict. 68 temporary settlements have been established within the territory of DPR, 57 of them function today, 11 of them are held in reserve. Currently, 3041 individuals live in the units, including 629 underage children, 4943 persons live in the housing fund of DPR, including 1470 children under eighteen.
- Employment of DPR citizens
Donbass has always been an industrial centre – in the USSR and in Ukraine. Our fellow citizens have been working for the public good by generations. They do a kind of work that not everyone can do. A fairly large percentage of the population is engaged in coal mining, in the production of high-quality steel, chemical products, etc.
As the war was unleashed by the Ukrainian side in 2014, many enterprises reduced staffing and productivity. Although, manufacture of products continued, including for export to Ukraine.
As a result of constant disagreements within the country and the lack of a “strong hand” to lead the country, in December 2016 group of armed men blocked the main railways in the Ukrainian territory, through which imports of raw materials to the DPR and exports of finished products to Ukraine.
It threatened jobs of citizens of the Republic. Perhaps, many will now have to change their employment or even their occupation.
The mission of organizing the employment of DPR citizens is shouldered by the Republic Employment Centre. The Centre was established on 9 December 2014. The organ is designed to assist DPR citizens in employment, as well as to retrain specialists.
According to their data 4,8 thousands of vacancies were available in the common database as of 10.03.2017. As of 10 March 2017, there were 17,2 thousand individuals who seek for job, registered in the Republic Employment Centers. Among them: 12,7 thousand have been employed (3,5 of them – on permanent positions, 9,5 – temporarily).
Donetsk centre of vocational education of The Republic Employment Centre organizes regular free public workshops to train practical skills, such as work with personal computers; technique and mechanization of trade accounts (work with cash register machines); the program “1C: Accounting 8.2.”; fundamentals of entrepreneurship; processing and decoration of textile and clothing products etc. Since the beginning of 2017, 60 persons participated in those workshops.