Statement by Ms. Oksana Koliada, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine, at the UN General Assembly meeting

Statement by Ms. Oksana Koliada, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine, at the UN General Assembly meeting

As prepared. Check against delivery

Mr. President,

The delegation of Ukraine aligns itself with the statement delivered by the Delegation of the European Union and would like to make a statement in its national capacity.

Ukraine is a powerful European country with a developed economy and rather high social standards. For almost 70 years, our country has known no terror of war.

Pisky is a respectable settlement near Donetsk, with developed transport, educational, and health care infrastructure. Currently, six families live there, who have no power or financial resources to move from under the daily fire. This is how Pisky looks like today.

This is a photo of children from the occupied territory. On a daily basis, ten children from Staromaryivka Village go to school in Granitne Village controlled by the Ukrainian government. Four kilometers along a mined path and via a half-destroyed bridge. This occurs so regularly that even Google Maps has the relevant route.

For 2,075 days, my country has been suffering from the armed aggression of the Russian Federation. Over 13 thousand people died, of which 3,345 were civilians, and 172 — children. Among the killed, there are also 298 foreign citizens, passengers of the MH-17 flight of Malaysian Airlines, shot down from the Russian Buk anti-aircraft artillery missile.

Over 100 thousand Ukrainian children live near the conflict line, where demining training is important. Seven children have been killed and 29 injured by mines since 2014.

1.4 million people had to leave their homes, over 5 million people (13 % of Ukraine’s population) live on the temporarily occupied territories, where human rights and freedoms are being violated.

Ukraine lost over 7 % of its territory due to occupation of the Crimea and separate areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. This is more than the area of such countries as Switzerland, the Netherlands, or Estonia.

On the territory of the occupied Crimea, the civilian population suffers from arrests, is being persecuted for their political beliefs, ethnic origin, or religion. Ukrainian schools are closed, the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar identity is being destroyed. The occupation power and scientific institutions of the Russian Federation are destroying the cultural heritage of Ukraine. Exactly one month ago, on November 14, 2019, the Arbitration Court of Kaluga made the final decision to expel the Crimean eparchy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from the building of the Cathedral of the Equal Apostles Volodymyr and Olga in Simferopol. At the same time, it was also decided to demolish the chapel of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in Yevpatoria!

Over 100 Ukrainian citizens are imprisoned for clearly political reasons. During the year 2014 alone, over 500 thousand Russian citizens were moved to the Crimea. Strict militarization of the Crimea is in progress.

We are trying to unite our country. The main objective is mental reintegration, and only then recovery of the territories will follow. The people, with their problems and needs, are in the focus of our attention.

We are thankful to everyone who is helping us in such a difficult time for our country. Fifty international humanitarian agencies are working on both sides of the conflict line. In the course of 5 years, our partners have accumulated and provided assistance for the amount of 540 million USD. The beneficiaries of such aid were over 3.5 million Ukrainian citizens who suffered as the result of the war.

Due to our cooperation with international partners, we manage to resolve the most important current needs of such people. Nowadays, the time has come for a gradual but decisive transition from the principles of an urgent humanitarian response to efficient development programs.

As for the state, our tasks are as follows.

First of all — maximum simplification of access of residents of the temporarily occupied territories to the main public services — administrative, educational, and health care. Lately, we have considerably simplified the procedure of crossing the conflict line, thus resolving a series of important problems of our citizens, who are forced to live on the occupied territories.

Secondly — we are forming a new efficient program of the region’s investment development, focusing on infrastructural projects, which may, in the course of time, lead to a change of the economic situation in the region.

Thirdly — we are increasing our work towards the formation of efficient information policy because it is the information environment where the Russian aggression started. Hybrid war is the present-day reality. I would advise our foreign partners to make use of this Ukrainian lesson.

Fourthly — we are activating our monitoring work with the temporarily occupied territories to the maximum. Special attention is focused on the Crimea. Our objective is to record all cases of violation of human rights and our country’s interests to enable prompt response and working out efficient response mechanisms.

Fifthly — we are working out and already implementing comprehensive programs of compensation for destroyed housing, as well as a whole series of residential programs for internally displaced persons.

The Government of Ukraine, jointly with the Parliament, have adopted a series of regulatory documents aimed at protection of the rights of prisoners-of-war, illegally retained civilians, victims of political persecution on the temporarily occupied territories.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who is helping Ukraine — from powerful government agencies to the smallest humanitarian missions. We value the international support for Ukraine, both with regard to combating the aggressor and overcoming the war aftermath, as well as to respond to the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. I believe today you will support the draft “Chernobyl Resolution” as well as our struggle for peace.

Our common task is that children of Ukraine and the whole world never come across the realities of war, never study the types of mines, but be happy and enjoy life instead.

Many thanks for the assistance, understanding, and attention!