The WASH Cluster was informed that today, 8 th January 2021, repair crews entering “no-mans land” from the Government Controlled Area (CGA) near Chigari, Toretsk, were forced to halt, due to weapons fire in their close vicinity.
After receiving a Window of Silence (WoS) agreed by both sides of the conflict, yesterday, today repair brigades from Voda Donbasa water company (VD) started their assessment of the damaged pipe supplying clean water to Toretsk city from Horlivka. The team from NGCA side had completed small repairs in their area of responsibility, however a second team approaching from the GCA side was stopped today by small arms fire and perceived shooting from a grenade launcher, very close to the team, which was accompanied at the time by a heavy repair vehicle. The incident happened close to Chigari (Leninske) village. The VD team stopped and, after contacting the authorities, received additional assurances of their safety. Workers were able to continue their assessment, together with the de-mining brigade, however the heavy machinery was not permitted to progress. Unfortunately, the short winter daylight hours, combined with delays due to the shooting incident, were not sufficient for the team to complete repairs of the pipeline.
The WASH Cluster must stress that this was very serious incident, which put at risk not only water and heating supplies, but also the lives of water workers. It should be noted that a truck driver and an excavator driver from the same brigade were injured on 23rd October 2018, while completing repairs to the same pipeline. Any incident that puts workers lives at risk, is of course completely unacceptable.
Voda Donbasa will continue its attempts to fix the water pipeline, tomorrow, 9th January 2021, meanwhile around 45,000 residents of Toretsk have been without clean water since 4th January. The WASH Cluster is in touch with Voda Donbasa and will inform partners of any updates.