Hostilities between parties to the conflict significantly intensified in January, undermining Minsk ceasefire agreements during New Year holidays. Mariupol and the so-called ‘Svitlodarsk Arc’ (Luhanske-Kalynivka) were major hot spots in the first weeks of January. From 29 January onward, the security situation in Donetsk city area has rapidly deteriorated, with several clashes and the use of heavy artillery reported in the triangle around Avdiivka (GCA), Yasynuvata and Donetsk (NGCA). OHCHR recorded 33 civilian casualties (eight deaths and 25 injuries) in January, compared to 17 in January 2016 . The sudden uptick of hostilities caused severe damage on a daily basis to residential property and critical public infrastructure, including schools, medical facilities and water, electricity infrastructure.
Of alarming concern is the disruption of water and gas supply systems while temperatures are falling below -17C degrees. From 30 January to 1 February, power lines supplying electricity to Avdiivka town,a coke plant and two major water filter stations were shelled, resulting in stoppage and disruption in water provision to up to one million people in Donetsk city and its vicinities (NGCA), including in Avdiivka and Marinka (GCA). In Avdiivka, water supply is currently coming from a small local back-up reservoir, which may run out by 3 February unless electricity is restored, after which the town heating system is likely to stop working, potentially triggering displacement. Attempts to fix power lines have failed as ceasefires did not hold. Latest reports also highlight a major leakage of the Southern Donbas water pipeline as a result of shelling near Avdiivka, bringing water supply from the main pipeline or Mariupol (estimated 500,000 people) to a halt. The city is now served by a backup reservoir.
In addition, damage to chemical plants, mines and sewage pumping stations expose people to additional environmental risks. Considering the scale of the damage, ‘windows of silence’ for several days are urgently needed for electrical repairs, followed by demining and water pipeline repairs. Humanitarian partners are mobilizing and providing life-saving assistance to the affected population, with an inter-agency rapid assessment mission to Avdiivka taken place on 1 February to assess humanitarian situation and needs.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.