OSCE monitors report increased ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine
The GoU closes the Zaitseve checkpoint due to intensifying hostilities in the area
UN confirms severe threat of UXO to civilians
Despite a declared ceasefire and ongoing peace negotiations, as of mid-February fighting near the contact line that separates government-controlled areas (GCAs) from nongovernment controlled areas (NGCAs) is at its heaviest since September 2015, according to U.S. Government (USG) partners and the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). The OSCE recently placed additional international monitors in eastern Ukraine to strengthen conflict-monitoring activities. By identifying areas near the contact line that are experiencing fewer clashes, the OSCE has also facilitated water infrastructure repairs in GCAs of Luhansk Oblast and NGCAs of Donetsk Oblast.
The Government of Ukraine (GoU) closed the Zaitseve checkpoint in Donetsk on February 3 in response to increased clashes between GoU forces and separatists in the vicinity of the crossing, according to the UN. The UN reports that the closure exacerbates already poor humanitarian conditions, particularly for vulnerable populations who cross the contact line to access financial resources, markets, and medical services in GCAs. Citing international humanitarian law, the UN has called on all parties to the conflict to allow the safe and unhindered passage of civilians through designated corridors.
On February 10, a vehicle traveling near Donetsk’s Marinka checkpoint struck a landmine, killing the driver and at least two bystanders, according to the OSCE and USG partners. In response to unexploded ordnance (UXO)- and landmine-related casualties, a UN team led by the UN Mine Action Service recently assessed the impact of UXO on civilians and the status of ongoing mine risk reduction activities in eastern Ukraine. The mission detailed the significant hazard posed by UXO and the limited reach of ongoing humanitarian mine-action activities and recommended interventions, including increased mine risk education.