Please don’t forget the suffering in eastern Ukraine

“In February it will be four years since Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, annexed Crimea and helped foment a rebellion in Ukraine’s industrial east. Since then about 10,000 people have died, including 3,000 civilians, and more than 1.7 million have been displaced. Aid agencies say that 4.4 million people have been directly affected by the continuing hostilities, while 3.8 million need urgent assistance. But the world has turned its gaze elsewhere.

The rise of Islamic State, and attendant atrocities in European cities, has seized centre stage in the preoccupations of the west. Moscow has focused on exerting influence in Syria’s bloody, endless civil war. The related migration wave sweeping southern Europe has generated a popular backlash that dominates the agenda of European politics.

Inexorably, the fate of the contested eastern rump of a former Soviet state has slipped down the order of priorities. In 2015, Kiev and Moscow signed the “Minsk agreement”, which stipulated a ceasefire and a special constitutional status for the rebel-held territories of the Donbass region, which would re-integrate into Ukraine and hold elections.

None of that has come into effect and the number of ceasefire violations runs into the thousands. And so a low-intensity conflict, squalid but deadly, has become the grinding everyday backdrop for a region that no longer sees a way out of its misery.”

This is an extract from an article in today’s Observer” newspaper.


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