New Zealand can do more for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine
Now that NZ has a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, it is in a position to promote solutions to the humanitarian crisis in the eastern provinces of Ukraine (Donetsk and Lugansk).
The UN recently reports that "From mid-April to 6 October, at least 3,660 people were killed and 8,756 wounded in eastern Ukraine. Between 24 August and 5 September, there was also a sharp increase in detentions by the armed groups, and there were alarming reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees, including mock executions and sexual violence. There were also reports of ill-treatment of those detained by Ukrainian armed forces and police."
In spite of the ceasefire, armed exchanges have continued. Fighting continued, for instance, over Donetsk airport (or what's left of it). "There have also been continued allegations of human rights violations committed by some volunteer battalions under Government control."
With winter coming, average temperatures will be below zero celsius, and many areas have no power or gas. Many people, especially the elderly, who are stranded in the region could die just from the cold.
New Zealand now has a responsibility to work with Russia and others on the UNSC to find a solution to this humanitarian crisis.The deeper political issues will have to wait until those who are at risk within the region have the opportunity to rebuild or to evacuate for somewhere safer. Both rebel and government volunteer militias need to be brought under control. And the disgusting attacks on unarmed innocent civilians have to stop.
Kiev has a right to defend its territorial integrity. But its violent strategy in Donbass has failed, and it's hard to see now how the people of that region will be able to trust the Kiev government – or not for a very long time. UN peacekeeping forces are needed to keep the combatants apart and to protect the innocent.