In January, the State Border Guards Service (SBGS) recorded some 586,000 individual and 100,000 vehicle crossings of the ‘contact line’ in both directions, representing a 17 per cent decrease compared with December. The decline was observed during the New Year holidays and at the end of January, coinciding with a sharp spike of insecurity along the ‘contact line’. In 2016, SBGS registered nearly 8.5 million individual crossings.
Crossing conditions have slightly improved in January despite continued violence, occasional disruptions and administrative delays. However, the situation remains concerning, particularly under freezing temperatures below -20C degrees, as people queue for several hours to cross the checkpoints (CPs), with limited access to basic services and as violence continues along the ‘contact line’. Humanitarian partners established additional medical services, including first-aid points at Novotroitske and Maiorsk CPs (GCA), and a medical van is on stand-by at Maiorsk CP (NGCA). Winterisation support also continues, as humanitarian partners provide heating points, heating pads and potable water, maintain latrine facilities, and distribute hot drinks, basic food, raincoats and boots. Yet needs remain high during the coldest time of the year.
Since 16 January, the Popasna-Luhansk railroad was blocked by veterans, on the GCA side of the ‘contact line’. This has hampered the delivery of coal for heating in Luhansk. These incidents are feared to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, trigger humanitarian consequences and social tensions. Financial losses, rising unemployment and diminishing capacity of affected heating stations are some of the likely consequences. Reportedly, daily train cargo crossings have dropped dramatically since the blockade began. On 11 February, activists disrupted operations of one more railway track that runs between Yasynuvata and Kostyantynivka (Donetsk oblast), which is essential for the daily delivery of industrial products, including coal, across the frontline. As a result of the blockade, Slovyanska Power and Heating Station, which supplies heating to the inhabitants of Mykolayivka (GCA), started working in emergency mode.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.