Kyiv / Geneva – The society in Ukrainian has a rather good general understanding as to what is allowed and what is prohibited in times of war, shows the survey conducted by the Gallup Institute on behalf of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). This is the largest survey of its kind ever carried out by the ICRC. It has taken place from June to September 2016, in 16 countries around the world, including Ukraine. Ten of the countries surveyed are suffering from the conflict, while the rest are the permanent members of the UN Security Council (USA, Russia, China, UK, France) and Switzerland.
According to the survey results in Ukraine, as high as 98% of citizens consider the preservation of human life and dignity imperative, which is the highest percentage of awareness comparing to all the rest surveyed countries.
“The ICRC is encouraged by such a positive response of the people, especially by the fact that up to 90% of Ukrainians consider attacks on hospitals, ambulances and medical personnel unacceptable,” – says the Head of Delegation of the International Committee of Red Cross in Ukraine, Alain Aeschlimann. “This shows that Ukrainians are familiar with international humanitarian law, which translated into the survey figures makes up to 84% of all the Ukrainian population aware of the IHL. Moreover, the people in Ukraine (up to 83% of people) are well aware that it is wrong to deprive population from water, medicine and food”.
While welcoming such a positive findings, the ICRC wishes to draw the attention to equally important rules of behavior in hostilities. For example, out of all the surveyed countries, only South Sudan have less understanding than Ukraine of the fact that it is wrong to target civilians while attacking enemy combatants, and that it cannot be excused as a necessary part of the war. However, understanding of this fact in Ukraine doesn’t much diversify from the rest of the surveyed countries (71% compared to 83%).
Equally, people in Ukraine have the least understanding of the fact that the rules of war are prohibiting attacks on the staff that are providing humanitarian assistance in the conflict zones. Only 59% of Ukrainians thinks it is forbidden, comparing to the rest of the surveyed countries where armed conflict takes place, where 73% of respondents know it is forbidden.
“The IHL explicitly prohibits intentional attacks on humanitarian workers”, explains Aeschlimann, “humanitarian workers are coming in aid to their fellow human beings, when it is the most necessary, so making them targets cannot be excused as a simple part of warfare”, says Alain Aeschlimann.
The four Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols seek to limit the effects of warfare on those who do not participate in hostilities, such as civilians or wounded and captured combatants. According to the general findings of the survey, it is clear that people who live in conflict-torn countries are more aware of how important it is to have those rules and abide by them. Therefore, the ICRC, as a humanitarian organization that has, since its creation over 150 years ago, played a leading role in promoting and developing the laws of war, wanted through this survey to give the voice to people, to give the voice to humanity.
All the results of the survey “People on War” can be found at www.icrc.org/peopleonwar