UN says 14,000 have fled Crimea since joining Russia

The fourth report from the United Nations' human rights agency on Ukraine said most of those leaving were Tatars and other minorities who faced 'intensified' discrimination

UN says 14,000 have fled Crimea since joining Russia

World Bulletin/News Desk

More than 14,000 people, mostly Tatars, have fled Crimea since the peninsula voted to become part of the Russian Federation, the United Nations has reported.

The UN human rights agency revealed on Monday that harassment and discrimination against Tatars and other minorities, as well as political activists opposed to the March 16 referendum to join the Russian Federation, has intensified.

Speaking in Geneva, the UN’s human rights chief Gianni Magazzeni added: "NGOs have warned of a possible new wave of internally displaced persons from Crimea during the next few months as new restrictions take effect and make people’s lives there untenable.”

The report highlighted that those opposed to integration with Russia face abduction, detention, torture and murder by armed groups.

The movement of displaced people from Crimea to other parts of Ukraine comes despite strict border controls. A number of political opponents, including Refat Chubarov, chairman of the Tatar representative body the Mejlis, have been barred from returning to Crimea.

In March, Moscow-backed forces seized control of Crimea. The territory’s Russian-speaking majority voted to join Russia in a referendum that Ukraine and the West deem illegal.

The report on Ukraine, which covered the period up to July 25, said at least 1,129 people have been killed and 3,442 wounded in eastern Ukraine since fighting erupted in mid-April.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement: "The reports of increasingly intense fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are extremely alarming, with both sides employing heavy weaponry in built-up areas, including artillery, tanks, rockets and missiles."

She referred to the downing of Malaysian Airlines jet on July 17 over eastern Ukraine, an act widely attributed by western governments to separatist fighters backed by Russia, as a “war crime.”

Pillay said: "This violation of international law, given the prevailing circumstances, may amount to a war crime. It is imperative that a prompt, thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigation be conducted into this event."

"I urge all sides to bring to an end the rule of the gun and restore respect for the rule of law and human rights.”


Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Temmuz 2014, 10:23