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    Ukraine Halts Welfare Payments to 600,000 Pending Their Status Verification

    © RIA Novosti . Yuriy Lashov
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    Ukraine suspended social payments to an estimated 600,000 displaced people, pending verification of their status.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Ukrainian government has suspended pensions and other social-welfare benefits to more than 500 000 people internally displaced by fighting between government forces and autonomy seekers in the east, UN Assistant Secretary-General Taye-Brook Zerihoun told the Security Council.

    Access to urgently needed services is impeded by bureaucratic impediments, Zerihoun said on Thursday.

    "This is further compounded by the decision of the Ukrainian government to suspend social payments, including pensions, to an estimated 600,000 displaced people, pending verification of their status."

    The UN official also explained that battles have recently intensified, despite agreements to suspend hostilities that were negotiated in the Belarus capital of Minsk in 2015.

    "Fighting is still reported daily, with a sustained period of escalation witnessed over recent weeks and months, at a level not seen since the intense phase of the conflict in August 2014."

    Zerihoun urged all parties to immediately cease hostilities and adhere to the Minsk accords and other commitments made to the so-called Trilateral Contact Group, which consists of Russia, Germany and France.

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