At least six thousand people remain in “internats” on the occupied territories

Дата: 30 March 2022
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According to human rights defenders’ data, at least 6 thousand people remain in the closed social institutions (“internats”) on the occupied territories. At least 42 institutions are still operating in the territories that are controlled or seized by Russian forces or in any other way are cut off from government-controlled territories. All these institutions continue working with the help of volunteers.

Radomyshl psychoneurological internat. Photo: National Preventive Mechanism, 2021

This number includes geriatric, psycho-neurological, social internats, boarding houses for people with disabilities, etc. As of March 25, most of these institutions are located in the Kherson region – at least 10 internats. None of the internats have been evacuated from the region so far. Institutions remain on the occupied territories in Chernihiv, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Sumy regions – at least six internats in each. Some internats are also endangered in Kyiv, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv regions.

According to human rights defenders’ estimates, almost all children’s houses were evacuated from the war-affected territories, including abroad. 

According to Olena Temchenko, expert of Expert Center for Human Rights (Kyiv), the responsibility to evacuate institutions was put on local authorities that have limited capacity to organize it and can only transport people within their regions. 

“State bodies must facilitate the evacuation of people the state is responsible for. It is absolutely irresponsible to put this burden on the local administrations. Now local administrations and directors of internats are forced to organize it on their own. If the evacuation had been organized properly and in time, the deaths of people in the ruined internats could have been avoided,” – she says.

According to Marharyta Tarasova, project coordinator at Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (Kyiv), active hostilities complicate the situation, as well as a lack of information about the internats. It is not unusual that human rights defenders have no connection with the staff of institutions, and struggle to find out what is happening.

“The media publishes controversial information, and, as a result, responsible bodies also receive controversial data. I can give one of the internats in the Kyiv region as an example. According to the media, it was captured by Russian troops, then released. In fact, it was neither captured, nor released but cut off because of constant hostilities. But responsible authorities were convinced that internat is not under threat,” – she says.

Human rights defenders call upon Ministries and other responsible bodies to assess the situation with internats in the war-affected areas and organize the evacuation of those that can be evacuated as soon as possible. 

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