Human rights activists: A 40-kilometer journey through checkpoints can take from 5 to 12 hours

Kyiv, February 21, 2017.

Queuing is the biggest problem that people have been facing at checkpoints for almost three years of war. About 5,000 people cross the checkpoints of entry and exit daily. They stand in queues for 4-5 hours, sometimes 20 hours. Very often, there is no sun or rain protection, no places to rest, people do not have the opportunity to warm up in winter or drink some water in summer. All these services are provided in the tents of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine but people do not hurry there as they are afraid to lose their place in the queue. This was stated by Olena Rozvadovska, volunteer, at a briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “An average 40-kilometer journey through the checkpoints can take from 5 to 12 hours. People do not use the tents where they can relax, drink tea, or even spend the night for fear of losing their place in the queue. Everyone is civilized, but there is tension. The State Emergency Service should consider handing hot drinks around instead of asking people to come and take them. […] Another task is to provide some roof and benches to rest nearby, not far, as people will not go there for fear of losing their place in the queue. This only worsens the situation,” says Ms. Rozvadovska.

Children are waiting in lines in the same conditions as adults. “There are no exceptions for children. Toilets are the same; there are no places for infants and their mothers in the State Emergency Service tents,” informed Olena Rozvadovska. “There should be special places for mothers with babies, so that they can change diapers or feed their children. Now the State Emergency Service does what it can and where it can,” noted Andriy Chernousov, leading expert of Kharkiv Institute for Social Research.

If a child travels with only one parent, there should be a notarized permission from the other parent. If it is impossible to obtain such permission, the parents should apply to court at the location of the parent whose consent is absent. “Most of these courts have been displaced. That is why it is difficult to get such permission. As consideration of this petition is quite formal, it is necessary to provide an alternative venue and opportunity to apply to court at the location of the person who applies for permission. Findings of educational institutions are very important for this,” noted Levon Azizyan, coordinator of the legal program “Vostok SOS”.

Among other problems are also poor state of toilet cabins, absence of signs of escape routes and shelters and chaotic marking of mined areas. “The signs “ware mines” are placed mindlessly, resulting in depreciation of the message importance to people. They do not take them seriously. Signs near a toilet or kiosk induce people to treat them contemptuously,” emphasized Olena Rozvadovska.