The United Nations reports that more than 110,000 Ukrainians have fled for neighboring Russia over the course of the year and thousands more have ben displaced as the government has fought separatist militias in the East. This week has seen a fragile ceasefire in place between the two contenders, enabling UN workers to get an accurate picture of the displacement that has taken place in eastern Ukraine.
Only about 10,000 Ukrainians have requested asylum from Russia, despite the arrival of almost 100,000. Refugees cited “worsening law and order, fear of abductions, human rights violations and the disruption of state services” as their reasons for leaving. In addition, some 54,000 refugees have fled their homes to elsewhere in Ukraine, including some 12,000 from Crimea.
While this exodus has been occurring in tandem with larger events such as the annexation of Crimea, the declaration of separatist “republics” in eastern Ukraine, and the election of Petro Poroshenko, it has received relatively little attention from international news media. Within Russia’s Rostov oblast, the region directly bordering Crimea, a state of emergency has been in place in the nine districts on the border, which are playing host to new refugees every day. Despite this, opposition candidates within Rostov report that the refugee figures are “greatly exaggerated:” with currently only 437 Ukrainian refugees with state facilities in Rostov-on-Don, and a further 500 in the North Caucus oblast, these numbers are south of what would otherwise be expected in order to keep pace with the enormous figures reported by the United Nations and Russian media.
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- The use of torture in Uzbekistan has increased markedly. The Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan has stated that not only has the incidence of torture increased, but the intensity of the tactics used has also become greater. The use of electric shock, in additional to physical and psychological torture, is now reportedly commonplace among not only political prisoners, but among suspects for petty crimes as well. The Uzbek human rights organization attributes this to poorly trained law enforcement officials looking to increase conviction rates by any means necessary.
- Ilham Tohti, a noted economics professor a Uyghur activist from China’s troubled Xinjiang province, has been detained since January, though formal charges against the Uyghur scholar have not been filed. Tohti has been outspoken against what he believes is unfair treatment of the Uyghurs, a Turkic minority living in Western China, and has researched relations between ethnic Chinese Han, and the Uyghur populace, which have grown increasingly tense over the past few months. Issues such as employment discrimination, housing and educational discrimination as well as religious and political marginalization have all been focal points for Tohti, as well as international human rights NGOs such as Amnesty International.
- Afghanistan’s poorly equipped humanitarian sector is struggling with the influx of Pakistani refugees who have fled across Pakistan’s northern borders and into Afghanistan in order to escape fighting between the Pakistani military and Taliban forces in Pakistan’s North Waziristan province. In addition to the nearly 70,000 Pakistanis who have entered Afghanistan, an additional 450,000 Pakistanis have been displaced throughout the country, representing an unprecedented migration pattern. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has pushed inveterately against Taliban militants based in North Waziristan with the hopes of dispelling the group from the province in which more than 50,000 have been killed since 2001. Compensation has been set aside for the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Pakistan.
- Truth out has published a report detailing the World Bank’s “dilemma” in dealing with Tajikistan’s Rogun dam project. The long-coming dam project is sorely needed by Tajikistan, as it will present the country with the opportunity to provide the entirety of its populace with electricity, year-round. The project will provide up to 3,600 megawatts, a 30% increase on the country’s next-largest dam. The World Bank, which has investigated the project thoroughly and published two reports on the feasibility of the project and set out a series of guidelines to be followed with regards to displace populations. The report highlights the growing number of persons who will be displaced as a result of the dam’s construction, and emphasizes the Tajik government’s need to strengthen and/or implement compensation packages for those being displaced. Additionally, the report calls on the World Bank to monitor Rogun resettlements and immediately address any violations to its own resettlement policies.