Russia disregards duty to ensure public health in occupied territories

Moscow is using the recent aggravation of the humanitarian situation as a smokescreen for further attacks on the rights and freedoms of Crimea residents.

As the party to the conflict, Russia persists in disregarding its duty of an occupying power under international humanitarian law to ensure and maintain public health of the population, Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations.

“For more than six years, the Russian aggression continues to take lives of civilians in my country. This international armed conflict and the temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as well as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol turned the subject of protection of civilians for my country from academic to a very practical and daily issue,” he said.

In the context of the spread of the acute respiratory disease COVID-19, the state of protection of life and health of civilians in the temporarily occupied territories became more alarming and needs special attention of the international community.

The spread of the pandemic did not stop the Russian authorities from announcing conscription into the occupying army of the Russian Federation, which is a war crime. In March 2020, a decree by the Russian President to deprive Ukrainian citizens of a right to own land in Crimea became yet another uncouth demonstration of Moscow’s disregard for its responsibilities under international humanitarian law.

Moreover, for more than three years, the occupying power has been showing utmost disrespect for the International Court of Justice by ignoring its order to restore the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People.

In this situation, Ukraine demands that the Russian Federation “ensure unhindered access there to Ukrainian competent authorities and medical staff and provide – on a constant basis – exhaustive information on the spread of coronavirus disease in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and on measures it undertakes to assist the population of these territories to cope with the pandemic.”