UN official laments humanitarian situation in Ukraine
UNITED NATIONS, May 29 (Xinhua) -- UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ursula Mueller on Tuesday lamented the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, calling on all parties to respect international human rights and humanitarian law.
Briefing the Security Council members, Mueller said over 2,700 civilians have been killed and up to 9,000 injured since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine about four years ago.
Landmine is a major cause to the casualties. "The conflict-affected area is one of the most mine-contaminated in the world. Landmines maimed or killed 238 civilians in 2017," she said.
Civilians risk shelling, sniper-fire and landmines as they make "the arduous journey" through the five official checkpoints where processing time can range from hours to days, she added.
Dangerous as it is, the journey is a must for many Ukrainian IDPs, or internally displaced persons, because they need to reach the government-controlled area to register their IDP status every 60 days to get their monthly pensions of 30 to 60 U.S. dollars, Mueller said, noting Ukraine has the highest proportion of elderly people affected by conflict in the world.
About one million crossings take place over the 457-km contact line that divides eastern Ukraine, according to the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The UN assistant chief commended the Ukrainian government for adopting a national IDP plan to address the situation of the 1.5 million registered IDPs.
Enhanced protection of civilians is called for, as over 600,000 people are regularly exposed to hostilities along the contact line, Mueller said, adding over 100,000 children attend schools with windows lined with sand bags.
Despite repeated appeals, water treatment workers and facilities have been targeted on 34 occasions in 2018, and a filtration station in Donetsk supplying water to over 345,000 people has come under fire eight times in the last 40 days, she added.
The health situation is also severe. Millions of people have limited access to health care, she said. "Measles and hepatitis outbreaks are frequent. HIV/AIDS prevalence among pregnant women is unacceptably high. Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is often undetected or untreated."
While humanitarian efforts aim to reach 2.3 million people in 2018, Mueller underscored "immense access and funding challenges," noting "we have only received 13 percent of the 187 million U.S. dollars that we have appealed for."
Concluding her briefing, she urged "the world" to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainians who urgently need support and the political leaders to make efforts to end the Ukraine conflict.