Sunday, December 28, 2014

Retirees Starve in Pro-Russian Rebel-Held Eastern Ukraine

Retirees in Donetsk, the largest city in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists, are dying of hunger because their pensions have been cut off by the national government, rebel officials and residents say.
Though Ukraine has not publicly discussed starvation deaths, it acknowledges there is a humanitarian crisis in the eastern region because of the conflict and blames the separatists and Russia for supporting the rebels.
Retirees eat in the City of Hope church cafeteria. The church 
serves one meal a day, which sustains many seniors who 
have seen the government cut off their pensions.
(Photo: Tatyana Goryachova)
The government cut off pensions this month to people in all areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by separatists to undercut support for pro-Russian rebels.
The number of starvation deaths in Donetsk is hard to pin down, largely because the conflict between Ukraine and separatist forces has crippled government functions in the east, including medical and coroners' offices that record causes of deaths.
Dmitry Ponomarenko, pastor of the City of Light 
church in Donetsk, Ukraine, says churchgoers reported 
100 starvation deaths of seniors in one month. He says 
hundreds are dying of hunger in eastern Ukraine's 
biggest city.(Photo: Tatyana Goryachova)
The siege of the city that began in August has led to 40% of the city's 1 million people fleeing.
Dmitry Ponomarenko, pastor of the City of Light Protestant church, said he believes the starvation toll is in the hundreds, perhaps thousands. His assessment is based largely on accounts from parishioners and 300 seniors who come to his church daily for a free meal. In one month, they reported more than 100 starvation deaths of pensioners in Donetsk, he said.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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