The armed conflict in Donbass, which has been going on for almost five years, led to the death of thousands of people, tens of thousands were injured. In addition, there are thousands of missing persons on both sides of the contact line. Those are not only servicemen, but also civilians whose relatives have not known anything about the fate of their loved ones over the years.
Some instruments of the international humanitarian law provide for the right of families to know the fate of their relatives (Article 32 of Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949) and the obligation of warring parties to transmit all relevant information concerning such persons (Article 33).
That is why this is one of the most important issues on the agenda of the Humanitarian Subgroup of the Contact Group in Minsk. The official representative of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic Daria Morozova continues to insist on the need to collaborate in the search for missing persons under the mechanism developed.
Despite the fact that the lack of information about the fate of relatives and loved ones is equivalent to the use of torture in international law, representatives of Ukraine continue to block the decision-making process. Due to the lack of a constructive position and attempts to politicize this process by official Kiev, a joint decision has not yet been developed. “If a cooperation program is launched now, two months will be enough to find a large number of missing persons. However, the Ukrainian side is unwilling to do so,” Daria Morozova said in her statement.
The Donetsk People’s Republic supports the initiatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is searching for missing persons on its territory in accordance with the developed Roadmap. The Republic unilaterally conducts work on identifying missing persons through the DNA test. As reported by the Republican Bureau of Forensic Medicine, to date, the biological database of unidentified bodies has already been created. Relatives of missing persons can pass a DNA test free of charge, provide information about the alleged place where their relative had gone missing and tell about distinguishing marks of the missing. This will help identify the deceased persons and, perhaps, will clarify the situation for relatives.
Residents of Donbass, including those living in the territory temporarily under control of Ukraine, can contact the Republican Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination of the Donetsk People’s Republic to take a DNA test, as well as for any other questions related to the search for missing persons and identification of unknown persons who died as a result of hostilities.
At the same time, it is noteworthy that the Ukrainian side not only refused to support this initiative, but also continues to hinder the search for the missing persons, imposing restrictions on crossing the contact line by their relatives.
In addition, official Kiev continues to unlawfully hold hundreds of people. The fate of many of them is unknown. Only in 2018, 42 persons filed statements on the missing with the Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic. Thanks to interaction with international organizations, it has managed to establish the whereabouts of 16 persons who had been in the general list of missing persons. At the same time, according to the United Nations, there are about a thousand unidentified graves in the territory of Ukraine.
To ensure state protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens, to prevent any form of discrimination regarding the exercise of rights and freedoms, the post of Human Rights Ombudsman has been established in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 01.03.2019
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 – 156 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 28 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 79 appeals, migration legislation issues – 74 appeals, labour legislation issues – 27 appeals, healthcare issues – 32 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 01.03.2019
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 01.03.2019
- 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 23 February, as a result of a car bomb attack in a buffer zone outside Elenovka, a civilian man born in 1984 and a civilian woman born in 1933 were killed. A man born in 1959 sustained a mine-blast injury, cerebral concussion, multiple wounds and injuries.
On 24 February, as a result of shelling in the buffer zone by Ukraine, a civilian man born in 1970 arrived at “Aleksandrovka” checkpoint with non-penetrating compound wounds.
On 25 February, as a result of shelling in Petrovskiy district of Donetsk, a DPR serviceman of 48 years old sustained mine-blast wound.
On 28 February, as a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman born in 1987 sustained blunt gunshot shrapnel wound.
Within the period between 22 and 28 February 2019, 4 persons, including 2 civilian men and 2 DPR servicemen were wounded in the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 and 28 February 2019, 11 persons, including 6 DPR servicemen, 1 civilian woman and 4 civilian men sustained injuries of various severities.
Within the period between 1 January and 28 February 2019, 18 persons, including 10 DPR servicemen, 1 civilian woman and 7 civilian men sustained injuries in the territory of the DPR as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 22 and 28 February 2019, 8 persons, including 6 DPR servicemen, one civilian woman and one civilian man lost their lives.
Within the period between 1 and 28 February 2019, 21 persons, including 19 DPR servicemen and two civilians lost their lives.
Within the period between 1 January and 28 February 2019, 25 persons, including 23 DPR servicemen, one civilian woman and one civilian man died as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4754 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 didn’t receive any appeals on arrest.
Based on the updated figures as of 01.03.2019, 253 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 101 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
– 152 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 didn’t receive any appeals on missing persons.
As of 1 March 2019, 456 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 supervision of the Republican Commission on Resettlement of Affected Persons chaired by the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman.
During the period of work between 23 February and 1 March 2019, 17 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1369 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 7189 persons, including 1760 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, 2447 individuals live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 469 underage children, 4742 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1291 children.
- Employment situation in the DPR
The Republican Employment Centre is the main institution responsible for providing jobs to the population.
As reported by the Centre, in the period from 1 January and 1 March 2019:
- there were 15.7 thousand vacant positions registered in the Centre by employers;
- there were 11.9 thousand job-seekers registered at the Employment Centre. Among them: 7.5 thousand have been employed (3.1 of them – on permanent positions, 4.4 – temporarily).
The employment centres give vocational training referrals to job-seekers for professions that are in demand on the labour market or according to specific jobs registered by employers, as well as to facilitate their future entrepreneurial activity. As of 1 March 2019, 77 persons have undergone vocational training (10 persons – training, 66 persons – retraining, and 1 person – a course for improvement of professional skills, including 35 persons whose courses started in late 2018 and continued in 2019).
The training covered 10 professions: an electric and gas welder, a bricklayer, a cook, a maintenance technician, a furnace equipment inspector, a hairdresser, a repair and maintenance electrician, a computer operator a seller, a tractor driver for farm production.