Kyiv, March 24, 2015. Those Ukrainian citizens held in custody, or in specialized medical treatment facilities and boarding houses in the ATO zone, became the hostages of the situation, stated Tetiana Pechonchyk, Chairperson of the Information Centre on Human Rights. She named the lack of coordination between the governmental departments and ministries, absence of shelters and delayed evacuation as the key problems that lead to the rising death toll among civilians. “When the Horlivka orphanage was evacuated, 20 people with special needs remained in the city. Only five of them survived by February,” Ms. Pechonchyk noted. Andriy Chernousov, head of the Independent Monitors Association, said that around 4,000-5,000 people who stay in social institutions in eastern Ukraine need help. It has not been easy to supply them even in peacetime; activists say the situation got only worse. The deterioration in this area is connected to the rising numbers of medical personnel leaving the region, lack of funding and restriction of transportation due to the military action. “Almost 80% of those living in remote areas say that the people have nothing to eat,” Mr. Chernousov said.
The experts told that most of these institutions are overcrowded. “Sloviansk mental asylum can accommodate up to 320 patients. However, apart from 210 patients, there were 365 women transferred from the Torez Mental Institute,” Ms. Pechonchyk said. She told that the issue that should be tackled first is a well-thought evacuation plan, especially considering that most of such establishments are located on the occupied territories. According to Olena Tymchenko, deputy head of department that deals with realization of a preventive mechanism under the supervision of the plenipotentiary of the Parliament of Ukraine, there are numerous places for evacuation across the whole of Ukraine, yet it is unclear how such an evacuation should proceed. “There are 39 out of 73 of such social institutions located on the occupied territories,” Ms. Tymchenko noted. Ukraine’s orphanages are usually filled by 45-60%, which means there is plenty of space to accommodate children evacuated from the dangerous areas.
The current situation with Ukrainian inmates remains complicated as well. “There were 36 incarceration sites in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions; only seven are left under control of the Ukrainian government, while the rest is controlled by pro-Russian militants,” said Oleksandr Hatiyatullin, specialist at the NGO “People with HIV/AIDS”. He also emphasized that there is a severe shortage of life-saving drugs and lack of appropriate evacuation procedures. “Around 500 who have been on the occupied territories of Ukraine were deprived from medical aid,” Mr. Hatiyatullin.