UNHCR survey: Long lines, lengthy document checks prevail at crossing points in ATO zone
Hours-long lines and lengthy checks at control passage posts located between areas in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) zone in eastern Ukraine prevail, according UN refugee agency (UNHCR) Representative in Ukraine Pablo Mateu.
"I crossed through these checkpoints several times myself. The conditions shocked me. One time I saw an elderly couple, they must have been about 80-years old, and it took them seven hours to go through the checks," Mateu said on Friday, presenting the monitoring report about the situation at border crossing points at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine.
He said that every day approximately 26,000 people cross the line of demarcation between pro-Russian militant groups and Ukrainian government troops.
Deputy Minister for Affairs in the Occupied Territories Hryhoriy Tuka said that the reasons for such long lines are obvious and do not depend always on the Ukrainian side.
"Safety is always the priority. Crossing points are closed at times because of the low level of security," he said, adding that today in Luhansk region not a single crossing point is functioning.
"Everyone who wants to cross the line of demarcation must go to Donetsk region. And this, in turn, is a burden on crossing points in that region. It causes bottlenecks," he said.
Senior Project Officer for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Jeffrey Erlich said that the organization does not have a mandate to monitor difficulties involving crossing points.
"But we are attentively studying information and help as much as we can. Not long ago we transferred 600 tables, warning about the danger of mined territories," he said.
According to monitoring results presented during the press conference some 15% of those surveyed were not able to cross the line of demarcation because of long lines. Most people complained about the lines – 78%, followed by shelling – 27% and poor conditions in the lines – 18%.
The monitoring was conducted from August 13 to August 21 by the UNHCR and the non-governmental organization Foundation 101. A total of 1,442 individuals were polled at crossing points in Zaitseve, Novotroitske, Maryinka and Hnutove.