April 19, 2024

Photo: A woman stands in the middle of what used to be her rose garden in Ukraine. Source: https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/02/1112602

By Mariah Abdel-Aziz

At the Centerstage:

With the threat of Russia using military force looming, further escalation of armed conflict in Ukraine will have devastating consequences for human rights in the region, in particular threatening the lives and potentially causes mass displacement. This is said in the statement made by Amnesty International.

“There are no winners in war, but countless lives will be torn apart,” said Filippo Grandi, head of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR”.

 

Decoding in details:

The authors of the statement emphasised that the conflict has already affected the economic and social rights of millions of people, especially the elderly, young people and low-income people. Thus, rising prices, in particular for medical supplies, have affected their right to health and a decent standard of living, and the recent schools closing intermittently caused the right to education.

 

Human rights activists do not hide their concerns about the possible escalation, as “the history of Russia’s military interventions – be it in Ukraine or Syria, or its military campaign at home in Chechnya – is tainted with blatant disregard for international humanitarian law.”

 

“The Russian military repeatedly flouted the laws of war by failing to protect civilians and even attacking them directly. Russian forces have launched indiscriminate attacks, used banned weapons and sometimes apparently deliberately targeted civilians and civilian objects – a war crime,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

 

The eventual migration crisis, which could be caused by the conflict, is also a matter of concern. For example, internally displaced persons may be joined by those seeking protection in Ukraine while fleeing Russia, Belarus and Central Asia.

 

“It is frightening to imagine what scale the refugee crisis could reach in the event of escalating hostilities in Ukraine. It will be a continent-wide humanitarian disaster with millions of refugees seeking protection in neighbouring European countries,” said Agnès Callamard.

 

Refugees flee Ukraine, Russia takes first major cities:

 

Photo: Ukrainian people fleeing from Ukraine to Poland’s borders. In a giant food depot in Poland, a few miles of the border with Belarus, thousands of people, many of them women and children wrapped in woollen blankets, are crammed together in corridors and hallways. Source: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/mar/05/poland-rush-to-aid-ukraine-refugees-russia-war

 

 

The conflict in eastern Ukraine provoked a full-blown human rights crisis in 2014-2015, the consequences of which continue to be acutely felt to this day. Following reports that civilians were fleeing in masse from Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, as a result of Russia’s so-called “special military operation,” UN humanitarians warned of the “devastating” repercussions of military action on Thursday, February 24, 2022.

 

One million people fled Ukraine during the war’s first seven days in what could become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century, the UN refugee agency said (Washington Post,  2022).  Furthermore, more than 2 million refugees have left Ukraine, according to data from UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency. The exodus is set to become Europe’s worst humanitarian crisis in this century, already on par with the number of refugees who were displaced from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan in 2015.

 

If fighting continues, as many as 4 million  roughly 10 percent of the Ukrainian population  could be displaced in the coming weeks, Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said on Feb. 28.

 

Photos and videos from the past weeks show packed train stations and traffic jams snaking through border towns. Crowds of refugees huddle in groups to fight the cold, sleep on cots in churches and gymnasiums and sort through boxes of donations from around the world. Many of them are women and children; Ukrainian authorities have forced men ages 18 to 60 to stay in the country to fight the invasion. According to the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, about 1.45 million people are still internally displaced after fleeing the conflict in Donbas and from occupied Crimea.

 

Photo: Russian Troops reached to Kherson. Source: https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2022/03/01/russian-army-on-outskirts-of-ukrainian-city-of-kherson-mayor-a76671

 

 

Russian forces took control of Kherson, a major city in Ukraine’s south, and have stepped up bombardment of Kyiv, the capital, and the southeastern port city of Mariupol. Mariupol’s mayor said the city is experiencing “a humanitarian catastrophe,” including heavy shelling and cutoffs of heat, electricity, and water said Financial Times.

 

On March 2, 2022, 141 of the 193 member countries of the UN General Assembly backed a resolution demanding that Russia cease its use of force in Ukraine. Only five members, including Russia, voted against it ( Deutsche Welle, 2022). A second round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian envoys is set to be held on March 3, 2022, as Aljazeera reported.

 

Elsewhere, the U.S. Justice Department announced a task force aimed at Russian oligarchs that will target individuals who have aided Russian President Vladimir Putin in the invasion of Ukraine and who seek to avoid newly announced sanctions (The NewYork Times, 2022).

 

Standpoint:

Since the invasion of Russia on Ukraine  February 24, 2022, Ukrainian people were forced to leave their homes, and those who returned or remain in the conflict zone have lived a hand-to-mouth existence, since the region’s economy has been devastated. Hundreds fell victim to extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, torture, abductions, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions committed by separatist, as well as government, forces.

 

More than half of the refugees have gone to Poland and people are also streaming into Moldova, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary. A large number of people are expected to continue onto other European countries in the coming months.

 

Photo: Ukrainian Refugees Map. Source: https://www.dw.com/en/moldova-shows-solidarity-with-ukrainian-refugees/a-61029418

Bibliography:

Global  Conflict Tracker, ( March 3, 2022): ‘Conflict in Ukraine’. Retrieved from: https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/conflict-ukraine

 

Deutsche Welle, (March 2, 2022): ‘UN: Large majority backs condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’. Retrieved from: https://www.dw.com/en/un-large-majority-backs-condemnation-of-russias-invasion-of-ukraine/a-60991964

 

WashingtonPost, (February  24, 2022): ‘Mapping the Russian invasion of Ukraine’. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/24/maps-ukraine-russia-attack/

 

United Nations, (February 24, 2022): ‘Ukraine: Humanitarians fear ‘devastating’ consequences’. Retrieved from: https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/02/1112602

 

Amnesty, ( February 28, 2022): ‘Further armed conflict in Ukraine would have devastating consequences for the human rights of millions’. Retrieved from: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/01/further-armed-conflict-in-ukraine-would-have-devastating-consequences-for-the-human-rights-of-millions/

 

Aljazeera, ( March 2, 2022): ‘Russian troops in streets of Kherson’. Retrieved from:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/2/russian-troops-in-streets-of-kherson-mayor-says-liveblog