According to the decision of the United Nations General Assembly, April 4 marks the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The relevant UN resolution stresses the need for greater attention by mine-affected states, and also calls on countries, public and non-governmental organizations to promote preventing further use of mines and other dangerous explosive devices.
Nowadays, mine contamination is a threat for Donbass citizens, where military operations have been going on since 2014. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the East of Ukraine ranks third in the world in terms of the number of people killed as a result of mines, leaving behind only Afghanistan and Syria. At-risk civilians are forced to restrict their freedom of movement due to mine contamination.
In accordance with the Report on Human Rights Situation in Ukraine for the period from November 16, 2018 to February 15, 2019, which was prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in 2018, 119 civilian casualties were documented (34 killed and 85 injured) as a result of incidents involving mines and handling of explosive remnants of war on both sides of the contact line.
The most critical cases were: detonation of ordnance near the Mayorsk checkpoint on September 30, 2018, when three teenagers were killed and one was injured; a land-mine accident with a civilian minivan at the “Elenovka” checkpoint on February 23, 2019, which killed two persons and injured one person.
In a Report dated March 11, 2019, representatives of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine noted that half of the civilian casualties of this year account for mine-related incidents.
According to the Human Rights Ombudsman Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic, since 2016, 440 persons, including 21 children, were killed or injured as a result of mine-related incidents in the territory of the Republic. In most cases, incidents occurred in front-line areas and cities where intensive hostilities were conducted.
In order to ensure the safety of life and health of civilians, humanitarian demining is carried out in the Donetsk People’s Republic – clearance of areas and facilities of explosive objects. Thus, the personnel of the pyrotechnic subdivisions of the Ministry of Civil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Relief of the Donetsk People’s Republic since 2014 have examined more than 3 thousand kilometres of roads with different uses and 32 thousand hectares of land. About 107 thousand explosive objects were detected, cleared and destroyed.
According to experts, it will take decades after the end of hostilities to completely clear the territory of Donbass from mines and explosive remnants of war. Now, the aggressive actions of the Ukrainian armed forces are only worsening the situation. Thus, the OSCE SMM continues to observe planting new mines, which is a violation of the obligations set forth in the Minsk Agreements and the Decision of the Tripartite Contact Group on mine action.
The Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic Daria Morozova regularly submits information to international organizations about the facts of a flagrant violation by Ukraine of the Geneva Conventions relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war. An unbiased assessment and appropriate response of the international community contribute to the peaceful settlement of the armed conflict in the territory of Donbass. Including by pressuring Ukraine to implement the Minsk agreements.
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 authorities 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 3 April, staff of the DPR Ombudsman Office conducted an on-site reception of citizens in Yasinovataia.
A group of citizens that represented Verkhnetoretskoie urban-type settlement and Krasny Partizan village 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 1721 complaints. In the period of work between 30 March and 5 April 2019, 16 citizens attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 44 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 11 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 10 persons received legal counselling, and 6 persons through on-site reception. 23 written appeals were approved for consideration, 27 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 27 calls were received via hotlines, 9 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 136 appeals, violations in civil law – 180 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 20 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 44 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 103 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 57, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 634 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 404 appeals, other issues – 143 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 05.04.2019
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 – 252 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 32 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 120 appeals, migration legislation issues – 125 appeals, labour legislation issues – 40 appeals, healthcare issues – 62 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 3 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 05.04.2019
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 05.04.2019
- Death toll, injuries to civilians and soldiers as a result of hostilities in the territory of the Donetsk People`s Republic.
The DPR Ombudsman’s Office documents cases of violations of Donbass citizens’ rights by the Ukrainian side: the right to life, to security of the person.
On 29 March, in Petrovsky district of Donetsk, a DPR serviceman of 30 years old sustained mine-blast trauma and an injury to his left eye.
As a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region, DPR servicemen born in 1977 and 1981 sustained mine-blast traumas and shrapnel wounds of various severities.
On 30 March, a civilian man born in 1987 sustained mine-blast wound and shrapnel wound to the head, while he was preparing for spring field works in Kamenka village, Yasinovataia region.
On 31 March, as a result of shelling in Zaitsevo village, 2 civilians were injured. A civilian woman born in 1965 sustained shrapnel wound of the abdominal wall. A man born in 1960 sustained shrapnel wound to retroauricular area.
On 1 April, as a result of hostilities in Avdeevka industrial zone, a DPR serviceman sustained shrapnel wounds to the face, mine-blast wounds.
Also, there have been reports about gunshot wounds received before the reporting period, on 25 March 2019. Servicemen born in 1974, 1976 and 2000 were injured as a result of shelling in Novoazovsk region, and a DPR serviceman born in 1969 was injured during the shelling in Gorlovka.
Within the period between 29 March and 4 April 2019, 7 persons received injuries as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine in the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic, including 4 DPR servicemen, 1 civilian woman and 2 civilian men.
Within the period between 1 January and 4 April 2019, 41 persons, including 29 DPR servicemen, 2 civilian women and 10 civilian men sustained injuries of various severities.
Within the period between 29 March and 4 April 2019, 5 DPR servicemen died in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 4 April 2019, 42 persons, including 38 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 4771 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 hasn’t received any appeals on arrest.
Based on the updated figures as of 05.04.2019, 253 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 98 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
– 155 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 hasn’t received any appeals on missing persons.
As of 5 April 2019, 460 persons are considered missing. They could have been taken prisoner in Ukraine.
- 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 supervision of the Republican Commission on Resettlement of Affected Persons chaired by the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman.
During the period of work between 30 March and 5 April 2019, 11 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1305 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 7171 persons, including 1747 children 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, 2415 persons live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 453 underage children, 4756 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1294 children.
- Protection of children’s rights
The need to protect the rights and freedoms of children is provided for in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1924, and the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 20, 1959, recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 23 and 24), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 10), as well as in national legislation (Article 31 of the Constitution of the Donetsk People’s Republic).
The Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic pays special attention to this issue in her activities. In the view to ensure effective protection of children’s rights and freedoms by the state, according to the established schedule of visits to child social institutions, on 2 April representatives of the Ombudsman Office conducted an inspection of living conditions and educational process in the Shakhtyorsk Child Welfare Centre, where children in difficult life situations aged 3-18 constantly live. At the moment, 28 children are staying in the institution. They receive social, psychological, educational, medical, legal and other types of assistance.
The staff of the social centre take care of both physical and psychological health of pupils. Social and pedagogical correction is carried out based on individual needs of each child. The Centre facilitates that children return to their families.
As a result of the inspection, education and living environment for children in the Shakhtyorsk Child Welfare Centre received a positive assessment from the staff of DPR Ombudsman Office.