Amnesty International has warned that the violence-scarred eastern Ukraine is sliding toward a humanitarian disaster as local residents struggle to get food as well as medicine.
Denis Krivosheev, deputy director of Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, said on Thursday that the people in Lugansk and Donetsk regions, especially vulnerable people such as pensioners, are under financial burdens to pay for food and medicines.
“While it may be too early to call this a humanitarian catastrophe, it’s clearly progressing in that direction,” Krivosheev said.
Amnesty further noted that pro-Kiev battalions are increasingly blocking humanitarian aid into eastern Ukraine, arguing that they often act like “renegade gangs” and urgently need to be brought under control.
Meanwhile, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed major concern for the elderly in eastern Ukraine following Kiev’s November 2014 decision to stop the flow of social benefits, including pensions, to the militia-held regions.
UNHCR spokesman, William Spindler, said the elderly and the sick together with those living in institutions are not receiving needed financial support.
Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence the pro-Moscow protests in mid-April 2014.
Violence intensified later in May after the two flashpoint regions held local referendums in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.
According to the latest figures released by the United Nations, more than 4,700 people have been killed in the fighting. More than one million people have been also driven from their homes by east Ukraine conflict.
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