Humanitarian Bulletin: Ukraine Issue 11 | 1-30 June 2016
• Increase in fighting results in highest number of civilian casualties in a month since August 2015
• Summer heat exacerbates humanitarian situation at crossing points
• IDP pensioners still struggling to get payments reinstated
• IOM presents results of National Monitoring system for IDPs
• Mobile clinics halted activities because of low funding
Stark rise in civilian casualties
June has been characterised by intense fighting in the conflict area in eastern Ukraine, resulting in the highest number of civilian casualties in a month since August 2015. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 69 conflict-related civilian casualties in June (12 fatalities and 57 injuries). The majority of the casualties (four fatalities and 37 injuries) were caused by shelling from various artillery systems, including calibres prohibited by the Minsk Agreement. Moreover, 19 casualties (five killed and 14 injured) were caused by mines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices. Six civilians were injured by small arms including sniper fire across the ‘contact line’. Two boys were killed by electrocution from a power line downed by shelling. Since the beginning of the conflict, 21,880 people were wounded and 9,470 killed, up to 2,000 of the fatalities were civilians.
The situation is prone to further deterioration since the parties strive to gain territory in the buffer zone and, in several locations, have been moving their positions closer to one another in the past two weeks. The stand-off in Stanytsia Luhanska and Zaitseve shrank to 300 and 500m from 1.5 and 2km respectively. Shelling frequently occurs at and in the vicinity of checkpoints, adding to the risks faced by thousands of people crossing the ‘contact line’ every day. Main hotspots of the armed conflict continue to be the western and northern suburbs of Donetsk, the area of the Donetsk airport, Staromykhailivka, Horlivka,
Ozerianivka, Zaitseve, Yasynuvata, Spartak, Dokuchaievsk, Zaichenko, Kominternove,
Sakhanka, Leninske (NGCA), Novotroitske, Avdiivka, Marinka, Stanytsia Luhanska,
Trokhizbenka and Debaltseve (GCA).
As the situation may further deteriorate with parties to the conflict moving their contingents closer to one another thereby increasing the risk of a confrontation, a well-developed and regularly updated contingency plan is an essential requirement for effective humanitarian response and safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of affected civilians. Partners are now revising the existing contingency plan.
Waiting for hours in the heat to cross the line
Despite increased violence and the difficulties of movement, the number of people crossing the ‘contact line’ increased again in June. The Border Guard Service recorded 816,000 people crossings, almost 100,000 (or 12 per cent) more than in May. People travel across the ‘contact line’ in order to visit relatives, buy food and other goods, receive social payments and look after property. One reason for the recent increase in crossings is the ongoing struggle of pensioners residing in non-government controlled areas (NGCA) to get their pensions reinstated after they were suspended in February. Following the removal of a bureaucratic obstacle on 8 June, numerous pensioners rushed to Departments of Social Protection in Government-controlled areas (GCAs)