Ukraine UN human rights envoy denied access to Crimea

The United Nations said today that in addition to logistical challenges that hindered Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović from traveling to the autonomous Ukrainian region of Crimea this week, he was informed by authorities that he could not be received there. “The reasons given were the complex situation on the ground as well as the impossibility of providing security for his delegation,” UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York.Mr. Šimonović, who was dispatched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to continue the UN’s high-level engagement with the country and to assess the human rights situation, had hoped to travel to Crimea during his week-long mission. “As in all areas where access is denied, Mr. Šimonovic will report on human rights challenges in Crimea based on sources including the diplomatic community and international and national organizations,” Mr. Dujarric stated.Mr. Šimonović continued his mission today with a visit to Lviv, where he met with local authorities, the Ombudsperson and representatives of civil society.Senior UN officials have been appealing to all parties to de-escalate tensions and to engage in direct and constructive dialogue to forge a peaceful way forward in Ukraine, which has been witnessing unrest for several months.Tensions heightened last week as lawmakers in Crimea, where additional Russian troops and armoured vehicles have recently been deployed, voted to join Russia and to hold a referendum on 16 March to validate the decision.The UN Security Council is scheduled to hold a public meeting on Ukraine tomorrow and hear from a senior Government official.

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