Humanitarian Bulletin: Ukraine | Issue 23 | 1 November – 31 December 2017
Shelling in Novoluhanske cause more misery for thousands of civilians
Alarming rise of mine-related incidents in the East
‘Christmas ceasefire’ brought some relief, but a definitive ceasefire is needed to end human suffering
Winter conditions aggravate the humanitarian situation
US$187 million needed in 2018 to assist 2.3 million people in need – Ukraine Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP)
Shelling in Novoluhanske – 3,500 people in a dire situation
With the onset of Ukraine’s harsh winter, the well-being and protection of thousands of people living along the ‘contact line’ is worsening. While some 200,000 people living in the Government controlled areas (GCA) within five kilometers of the ‘contact line’ already experience daily shelling, thousands of them were put in further danger, when intense fighting escalated on 18 December. One of the heavily hit towns with more than 3,500 residents was Novoluhanske, Donetska oblast, while other areas around Horlivka and Yasynuvata also witnessed an increase in hostilities.
When the residential areas of Novoluhanske were hit by the massive shelling with MultiLaunch Rocket System (Hrad), many children were at home waiting for dinner to be served, mothers returning from work or elderly people having rest. Eight people, including a child were injured during this incident. The shelling disrupted critical services – water, gas, electricity and heating supply, leaving people face to face with harsh winter in eastern Ukraine, without proper shelter, heat or food. Hundreds of houses and apartments were reportedly either damaged or destroyed. As the humanitarian situation worsened, an estimated 400 people fled for safety elsewhere.
In response, humanitarian agencies and local authorities provided timely and wellcoordinated assistance and protection, including emergency construction materials, generators, blankets and food. The situation remains challenging, but people are now reportedly returning to their homes. The incident once again demonstrates that any of the 600,000 people, including 100,000 children living on both sides of the ‘contact line’ risk being caught up in the ongoing hostilities, not to mention the risk of mines and other unexploded ordnance. Their protection is the biggest concern. A definitive ceasefire is the only lasting humanitarian solution in eastern Ukraine.
Rising toll of civilian casualties
The ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine is one of the deadliest in Europe since the Second World War. As a result, casualties continues to rise. In December 2017, OHCHR recorded 39 conflict-related civilian casualties (7 killed and 32 injured). This is a 56 per cent increase compared to November, when 5 civilians were killed and 20 more injured. The number of civilian casualties in December is also the highest since August 2017 with 42 civilians killed or injured. Shelling, including small-arms fire, mines, booby-traps or Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) remain the major causes of casualties among the civilians.