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Ukraine, U.S. Say Rebel Ouster Of Aid Groups Violates Peace Accord

Ukraine and the United States condemned a decision by pro-Russian separatists to ban most foreign aid organizations from parts of rebel-held territory, saying the move violated the Minsk peace agreement.

Rebel leaders of the so-called Luhansk People's Republic on September 24 said they had refused accreditation to 10 out of 11 foreign humanitarian agencies, ordering them to leave Luhansk by September 25.

United Nations agencies were also told to leave, prompting sharp protests from the UN and affected groups.

Ukraine said the move violated a peace plan it inked with the rebels in Minsk in February, which requires safe access and distribution of humanitarian aid through "international mechanisms."

"This is an attempt to disrupt the Minsk process," Iryna Herashchenko, spokeswoman for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, told Reuters. "Ukraine expresses its deep concern, as banning the work of international organizations primarily affects civilians."

The U.S. State Department also condemned the decision.

"Expelling these organizations puts at risk up to 3 million people in separatist-held parts of Donbas by denying them access to food, water, medicine, shelter, and clothes in advance of winter," it said.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP