Starvation Hits Retirees in Blockaded Donbass

Deprived of their pensions by Kiev. Those without families or far from help extremely vulnerable. Deaths due to starvation reported

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.

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.

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.

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