GENEVA (AA) – A UN official has called for effective border controls to stop the suspected flow of weapons into Ukraine from Russia.
Addressing a press conference in Geneva after presenting a UN report on the human rights situation in Ukraine Thursday, Gianni Magazzeni highlighted the fact that “humanitarian aid” trucks entering Ukraine from Russia were not being inspected for illegal arms.
“Border is not effectively controlled, it means everything can come in and move out without anyone inspecting it,” Magazzeni, who is chief of the Americas, Europe, and Central Asia Branch of the UN Human Rights Office, said.
“We know there are thousands of tons [of humanitarian aid] coming in white trucks across the border but there is no inspection of the content; there is no authorization officially being granted by government of Ukraine. There may be some humanitarian [aid] but there may be other elements within these trucks,” he said.
The cease-fire in eastern Ukraine remains “tenuous”; 78 conflict-related civilian casualties were recorded in eastern Ukraine between Nov. 16, 2015 and Feb. 15, 2016.
The estimated casualty figures since the beginning of the conflict are more than 30,000 people, including at least 9,160 killed and 21,000 injured, including civilians as well as Ukrainian armed forces, and members of armed groups, the report said.
“There is a terrible sensation of physical, political, social and economic isolation and abandonment among the huge number of people – more than three million in all – who are struggling to eke out a living in the conflict zone. They are in urgent need of greater protection and support,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said in a statement.
“The implementation of the Minsk Agreements is the only viable strategy for achieving a peaceful solution in certain areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by armed groups, which, in turn, is key for resolving the human rights crisis in Ukraine.
“This includes the restoration of effective control by the government of Ukraine over the border with the Russian Federation and the withdrawal of foreign fighters, mercenaries and military equipment,” Zeid said.
“The human rights situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea remains very difficult, according to the report, with Crimean Tatar demonstrators facing prosecution and Crimean Tatars being arrested for alleged membership in ‘terrorist’ organizations,” the UN said.
“In a significant and worrying development, on Feb. 15, the prosecutor of Crimea filed a request with the supreme court of Crimea to designate the Mejlis, the self-governing body of the Crimean Tatars, as an extremist organization and to ban its activities,” the UN noted.
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