Human Rights Council Interactive Dialogue on Ukraine: UK statement

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Rita French

The United Kingdom thanks the High Commissioner for her update.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant challenges for Ukraine, particularly for its citizens in the conflict-affected areas of eastern Ukraine and in illegally annexed Crimea. Closures of most of the entry-exit checkpoints in eastern Ukraine, mostly by the Russia-backed armed formations under the pretext of Covid-19 measures, have resulted in the separation of thousands of families and restricted access to healthcare, pensions and sources of income.

While reasonable precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the pandemic should not be used as a pretext for unnecessary limitations on freedom of movement. We call on Russia to use its significant influence over its proxies to ensure freedom of movement across the line of contact.

Reports of the impact of the pandemic on detainees being held by the so-called ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ and ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ in eastern Ukraine are also concerning. Detention facilities are unable to comply with physical distancing provision and lack crucial Personal Protection Equipment and access to adequate healthcare.

Madam High Commissioner,

What more can the international community do to ensure the well-being of detainees in eastern Ukraine during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Thank you.

Published 18 December 2020

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