Rebels in Ukraine order UN agencies to leave

Separatists in eastern Ukraine order UN aid agencies and some other international NGOs to stop operations in Luhansk and Donetsk

Photo by: UNHCR
Photo by: UNHCR

A convoy of 13 trucks carrying humanitarian aid arriving at Gorlovka in eastern Ukraine

Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien for the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has stated that the self-proclaimed authorities in eastern Ukraine have ordered UN agencies to stop operations and to leave the Luhansk area by Friday.

Some other international non-governmental organisations must leave the region by Saturday.

“I am also extremely concerned by the situation regarding accreditation and registration of international NGOs in Donetsk. A decision by the de facto authorities in Donetsk on the UN’s future operations remains on hold, and all UN agency operations have been suspended,” said O’Brien in a statement.

It is rare for UN agencies to be ordered to stop operations in a country or a region.

The Donetsk and the Luhansk regions are held by Russian-backed rebels where fighting started in April 2014.

According to a report from the UN’s human right agency earlier this month more than 7,962 people have died in the conflict so far.

O’Brien stressed the bad circumstances in the region and said that the suspension of “almost all humanitarian programmes in Luhansk and Donetsk since mid-July is putting lives at risk and preventing the most vulnerable, including children, women and the elderly, from accessing basic services.”

He also said around 3 million people will be affected by poor weather conditions as winter approaches.

Ten out of 11 foreign NGOs were not registered by the Luhansk rebels on Thursday because of “violations.”

The ebels also rejected the registration of Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders for "illegally storing psychotropic medication."

MSF has denied the allegations.

Since July, the pro-Russian rebels have changed the rules for humanitarian in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. According to new regulations aid groups must register with the rebels before they can operate in the area.

Patients’ lives are at risk without access to essential medicines such as insulin and tuberculosis vaccines.

The UN says that 1.4 million Ukrainians affected by the civil war have been internally displaced or have become refugees.

TRTWorld and agencies