We were soaking pus with paper: medical aid available in captivity and after it. Former captives often have to look for and pay for expensive medical treatment themselves. The majority of wounded and ill Donbas captives have no access to qualified medical help. These people can be called lucky if there are captive doctors nearby. Then, they can obtain some help. However, there are cases when they do not get any medical assistance at all.
The Coalition “Justice for Peace in Donbas” conducted a survey to find out the details of the conditions illegal captives are kept in.
One hundred and nineteen people, including eleven women and one hundred and eight men, thirty-six militaries and eighty-three civilians were questioned.
According to the survey, it was possible to obtain some medical help in sixty-nine illegal prisons.
In twenty-seven illegal prisons, it was impossible to obtain any medical assistance though prisoners of war addressed jailers to get it and it was needed urgently. Captives themselves had to provide each other with some aid though they were not doctors and the level of it was quite primitive.
Surgeries were often conducted in poor sanitary and hygienic conditions.
"Those who were thrown into cells with wounds caused by pieces of shells, tried to bring some dirt into their wounds themselves, to make them fester and thus the pieces of shells were going out with the pus. That pus was soaked out with toilet paper”, says one of the survey participants.
Two ex-captives said that they never got the necessary medicine which their relatives tried to send them.
Only one person notified that he got all the medical assistance he heeded and the rest of the respondents said that they were short of some medicines.
After a person is freed from captivity, he or she is left alone.
Civilians who have been freed, still have difficulties getting qualified medical help.
Those who have got the combatant status, are examined by and treated in state and sometimes even private clinics free of charge, other former captives face a lot of problems.
The majority of these people have addressed local hospitals themselves and expensive treatment was paid for by their families or charity funds.
"Those who have not had such an opportunity, had to postpone diagnostics and treatment “till their financial situation gets better”. This is extremely bad for both their health and collecting proofs of tortures which will be necessary in court”, says Yevheniya Bardyak, Doctor of Medicine.
In her opinion, medical staff of city and regional hospitals have no necessary experience in recording the results of torture.
The majority of former captives do not say anything about the circumstances which damaged their health. To be able to prove the facts of torture, it is necessary to undergo forensic tests. Then, the results are submitted together with other papers on the case. However, the majority of ex-prisoners of war do not agree to undergo the tests.
Disabled veteran status.
Civilians can get the disabled veteran status if they have been volunteers in the Anti-Terrorist Operation zone. It is possible to prove this fact if there are necessary documents from the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the Security Service of Ukraine, or if there is a decision of the court which proves the fact of volunteering.
The court can also prove the fact of mutilation and this can be used to prove that a person was tortured while in captivity.
If the person who has been held prisoner has health problems and continues medical treatment, it is crucial to have all the documents of his or her medical history. They can be obtained in the hospital’s archives.
It is important that all the medical documents proving the person’s condition before the captivity should be preserved as they can help to see the changes which happened to the person while he or she was held prisoner. All these documents will be used to estimate how the captivity has influenced the person’s health, and will help to obtain the necessary financial compensation and a war veteran status.
According to the recent data provided by the Security Service of Ukraine, three thousand forty-four people have been freed from captivity in the Donbas. More than a half of them, one thousand four hundred and fifty-six are civilians.
More than one hundred people are still held prisoners, six hundred and fifty-five people have been declared missing and nothing is known about their destiny.
Source: Human Rights Information Centre
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