Civilians in eastern Ukraine need protection

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On a mission to Ukraine accompanying EU Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Commissioner Christos Stylianides on 27 February, EURACTIV saw an NGO-run centre for internally displaced persons in the centre of Dnepropetrovsk, at some 200 km from Donetsk.

The situation downtown looked dismal. A military-type tent was packed with women, largely from Donetsk and Lugansk, waiting to be “processed”, before obtaining assistance.

As the head of the centre explained, the displaced persons were “treated” there, and then were given accommodation, likely in other parts of Ukraine, as the Dniepropetrovsk region is overburdened with refugees.

Later in the day, the first of three cargo aircraft carrying EU humanitarian aid landed at Dnepropetrovsk airport. Many journalists and cameramen were taken to the tarmac, but the numerous military personnel present warned them against filming military helicopters and other sensitive infrastructure situated nearby.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said today (3 February) that in just the three weeks up to 1 February, at least 224 civilians have been killed and 545 wounded in Eastern Ukraine. Any further escalation will prove catastrophic for the 5.2 million people living in the midst of conflict in eastern Ukraine,” the UN official added.

Zeid expressed concern about the implications of the harsh winter months on civilians in conflict-affected areas, with shortages of food and water and power cuts.

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