Kyiv, February 9, 2015 – Ukraine’s Emergency Services in collaboration with the Ukrainian Armed Forces and volunteers evacuated more than 5,000 civilians from Debaltseve, Avdiivka, Chornukhine and other cities shelled by pro-Russian militants. Iryna Gerashenko, MP and the President’s envoy for conflict settlement in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Vasyl Stoyetskiy, Deputy Head of Ukraine’s Emergency Services, and Mykola Kuleba, Authorized representative of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights, told this during the press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Ms. Gerashenko emphasized that Ukraine collaborates with the International Committee of the Red Cross, OSCE, the United Nations and other international organizations regarding the evacuation process of civilians from embattled areas. Ukrainian authorities have succeeded in securing a transport corridor to evacuate residents of frontline cities on February 6-7. However, pro-Russian militants breached preliminary agreements and shelled buses with civilians. They also violated the international law by capturing and torturing one of the Ukrainian emergency workers.
The Government of Ukraine provided two “Cougar” armored vehicles to avoid the rising death toll among both civilians and employees of the State Emergency Service. “We have evacuated 150 people from Chornukhine thanks to these armored vehicles,” Mykola Kuleba said.
One of the main reasons why many local residents refuse to leave is fear and the power of Russian propaganda. According to Mr. Kuleba, some of the people are afraid that they will get shelled while trying to leave the city. Others fear forceful evacuation on other territories of Ukraine. All three speakers emphasized that evacuation process is entirely voluntary; nobody will be forced to leave.
New transit points have opened in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. Iryna Gerashenko pointed out that the Ukrainian parliament should pass a resolution, granting an IDP status to those who left Debaltseve, Vuhlehirsk, Avdiivka and other towns. Currently, these internally displaced persons are housed in hotels, health resorts and boarding houses. “We need to talk with this people and do utmost to safeguard every person’s,” Mykola Kuleba concluded.