On March 14, on the eve of the Day of workers of housing and communal services, government representatives and residents of the Donetsk People’s Republic observed a minute of silence and laid flowers at the Memorial in the centre of Donetsk to pay tribute to the memory of utility workers who died performing their professional duties.
Since the beginning of the military conflict in Donbass, more than 30 workers of the Republic’s housing and communal services have been injured, 14 of them died. Armed formations of Ukraine resort to shelling against infrastructure objects in front-line areas. Utility workers often become victims of these provocations.
It should be noted that, according to the norms of international humanitarian law, these objects must be under protection and are not subject to attack. Thus, Article 14 of the Additional Protocol of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), prohibits to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.
In accordance with the document, these include drinking water installations and supplies, which often come under shelling in the territory of Donbass by armed units of Ukraine. And this is despite the fact that water supply facilities provide water for a large area, both in the territory controlled by the Donetsk People’s Republic and in the territory temporarily under control of Kiev.
For example, the Vasilevskaia first stage pumping station of the Yuzhnodonbassky water pipe supplies water to residents of 40 settlements on both sides of the contact line, a total of about 1.8 million people. Only within the reporting period, the station was attacked on March 6 (once), March 7 (twice) and March 9 (once), including with the use of weapons prohibited by the Minsk Agreements, and on March 13, a crew of the Communal Enterprise “Voda Donbassa”, which carried out repairs, came under fire.
In addition, in its reports, the United Nations has repeatedly documented other numerous attacks on important infrastructure facilities. A bright example is the Donetsk Filter Station. Its personnel, risking their lives under shelling, maintain its operation, because if the station stops, 1.2 million people on both sides of the contact line will have no water supply. Also, the shelling against the Donetsk Filter Station can lead to leakage of chlorine. A warehouse with chlorine is located in the territory of the station.
These facts demonstrate the attempts of the Ukrainian authorities to create a major humanitarian or environmental catastrophe in Donbass. This issue has been repeatedly raised by the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic Daria Morozova in her public statements and appeals to international organizations. Only close attention of the world community and active position in the cause of preventing further violation of international humanitarian law by Ukraine can contribute to the de-escalation of the conflict and prevent more deaths among utility workers performing their professional duties.
Citizens can apply to the Ombudsman in any suitable way. Now, the majority of applications are 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 file a written complaint that may be submitted either in person or via e-mail.
On 13 March, staff of the DPR Ombudsman Office together with representatives of the City Administration and other authorities conducted an on-site reception of citizens in Gorlovka.
7 citizens attended the reception in order to get assistance in restoring their rights and receive clarifications. They were provided with detailed explanations of the norms of the current legislation. As regards issues demanding further consideration, written appeals were accepted for review by the DPR Ombudsman within her competence.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Ombudsman received 1290 complaints. In the period of work between 2 and 15 March 2019, 4 citizens attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 87 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 20 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 5 persons received legal counselling and 7 persons through on-site reception. 14 written appeals were approved for consideration, 10 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 82 calls were received via hotlines, 15 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 89 appeals, violations in civil law – 107 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 15 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 26 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 79 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 42, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 498 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 320 appeals, other issues – 114 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 15.03.2019
Violations in criminal law
Сomplaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary
Social, humanitarian and economic issues
Violations in civil law
Сomplaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen
issues connected with hostilities
Administrative and legal violations against citizens
complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials
Among all incoming correspondence to the Ombudsman of 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, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid – 191 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 31 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 97 appeals, migration legislation issues – 94 appeals, labour legislation issues – 35 appeals, healthcare issues – 48 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 2 appeals. (Diagram 2).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens on social and humanitarian issues, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 15.03.2019
Pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid
Migration legislation issues
Transportation, communication and consumer rights
Labour legislation issues
Issues of education, culture and sport
Issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services
The majority of complaints are 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 15.03.2019
- Death toll, injuries 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 Donbass citizens’ rights by Kiev authorities: the right to life, to security of the person.
On 3 March, as a result of a sniping fire in Krasny Partizan village, Yasinovataia region, a DPR serviceman born in 1998 sustained gunshot perforating wound to the left hand.
On 5 March, as a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region, DPR servicemen born in 1983 and 1975 sustained wounds of various severities.
On 10 March, in woodland outside Alexandrovka settlement, a civilian man born in 1983 sustained shrapnel wound to his right hand and a lower third of the right forearm.
On 11 March, as a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman born in 1981 sustained shrapnel wound to his left hand.
Within the period between 1 and 14 March 2019, 5 persons, including 1 civilian man and 4 DPR servicemen were wounded in the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 14 March 2019, 23 persons, including 14 DPR servicemen, 1 civilian woman and 8 civilian men sustained injuries of various severities.
Within the period between 1 and 14 March 2019, 6 persons died, including 4 DPR servicemen, 1 civilian woman, who died on 1 March as a result of shelling in Gorlovka, and 1 civilian man, who died as a result of shelling in Sakhanka village on 4 March.
Within the period between 1 January and 14 March 2019, 31 persons, including 27 DPR servicemen, 2 civilian women and 2 civilian men died as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4760 persons died, including 81 children.
Officially confirmed information on individuals, who have been wounded since the beginning of the conflict continues to be reported to the Ombudsman’s Office in DPR.
- Register of the prisoners of war, missing soldiers
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic received two appeals on arrest. A man born in 1991 was detained in February 2019, now he is in custody of Artyomovsk SIZO. A man born in 1977 was detained in February if this year, too. He is in custody of Kharkov SIZO.
Based on the updated figures as of 15.03.2019, 255 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 101 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
– 154 persons whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side.
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic received one appeal on missing persons. A man born in 1988 has not been in contact with his family since June 2018.
As of 15 March 2019, 457 persons are considered missing. They might be held in Ukrainian captivity.
- Register of displaced persons and affected citizens.
At the time of armed conflict, the civilian population living in the zone of fighting and near the contact line is often affected. With the view to protect the human right to life and security of the person, and to provide assistance to victims as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine, social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres).
Since the beginning of the conflict 5380 referrals for accommodation in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres etc.) have been issued, 137 of them – in 2018. With the coming into force of the Order of the Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic No. 137 of 24.04.2018, Territorial commissions in cities and districts are now responsible for accommodating affected civilians. They work under the supervision of the Republican Commission on Resettlement of Affected Persons chaired by the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman.
During the period of work between 2 and 15 March 2019, 16 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1372 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 7163 persons, including 1768 children under the age of eighteen have been registered as persons affected as a result of the conflict. 75 social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) have been opened in the territory of DPR. 52 of them operate, 23 of them are held in reserve. Currently, 2435 individuals live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 460 underage children, 4728 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1308 children.