Ukraine NGO Forum Members met with Valeriia Lutkovska who represents Ukraine in the humanitarian subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) in Minsk

July 11, 2019, the Ukraine NGO Forum held a meeting of its members ‒ humanitarian NGOs and Valeriia Lutkovska, Director of the CSO ‘Ukrainian Institute for Human Rights’. At the beginning of June, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, appointed Ms. Lutkovska Representative of Ukraine to the humanitarian subgroup in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG), working towards a peaceful settlement of the situation in eastern Ukraine.

Lutkovska informed the NGOs about the subgroup’s priorities: protection of the rights, and release of detainees (hostages and political prisoners) detained in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions; the search for missing persons; improvement of conditions for crossing the line of contact in the Luhansk region (reconstruction of the bridge at the entry-exit checkpoint (EECP) in Stanytsia Luhanska, and the opening of the new EECP in Zolote). The discussion on these issues takes most of the time during the humanitarian subgroup’s meetings. From V. Lutkovska’s perspective, in order to expand the range of issues discussed, it would be important to increase the number of meetings of the humanitarian subgroup (using video conferencingtechnology in particular).

Participants of the meeting also discussed some issues concerning humanitarian activities and the operational environment for NGOs: provision of relevant humanitarian access to the non-government controlled territories for NGOs that provide assistance to the conflict-affected populations; the issue of paying pensions to residents of the temporarily occupied territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, etc.

According to Ms. Lutkovska, a number of issues related to the humanitarian protection of the population affected by the conflict in Donbas has been falling under the mandate of the subgroup on economic issues of the Minsk TCG.

Lutkovska urged humanitarian non-governmental organizations to join the initiative on the development of legislation on the principles of transitional justice, which is strategically necessary to overcome the consequences of the conflict.

Over the presidency of Petro Poroshenko the humanitarian subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group was led by First Vice Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Iryna Gerashchenko, who welcomed the appointment V. Lutkovska as her successor. V. Lutkovska, while holding position of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights (2012-2018), was involved as an expert in the work of the subgroup, and her team worked on verification of prisoners and preparation for their release.