Despite prevailing insecurity and widespread landmine contamination, the number of crossings of the ‘contact line’ through the five operational Entry/Exit Checkpoints (EECPs) increased in October, with over 1.2 million crossings recorded during the month. Shelling, sniper fire and explosions of landmines were frequently reported at and around the EECPs. On 18 October, a civilian car was hit by a sniper fire, while waiting to cross the EECP ‘Marinka’ (Donetska oblast).
An increase of civilian casualties was recorded in September – from 12 in August to 20 (5 killed and 15 injured), according to OHCHR, as hostilities continued unabated in eastern Ukraine. On 11 September, a secondary school in the settlement Zolote 5 (Luhanska Oblast, NGCA) was shelled during classes and 100 students and teachers had to be evacuated to the nearby bomb shelters. This was the 62nd security incident involving educational facilities so far this year. Since January 2017, 57 incidents of education facility damages have been recorded, directly affecting nearly 5,600 children.
Civilian casualties have continued to rise in eastern Ukraine, as hostilities have intensified along the ‘contact line’. In May 2018, OHCHR recorded 61 civilian casualties (12 killed and 49 injured), which is the highest so far in 2018. The humanitarian situation in the Chyhari settlement (Donetska oblast) remains of concern due to intense fighting which broke out on 27 May. Eleven houses were reportedly destroyed and 50 damaged in the settlement, which is approximately 800 metres from the ‘contact line’.
Despite increased hostilities and extreme levels of mine contamination in the areas along the ‘contact line’, the number of civilian crossings through the five operational Entry Exit Checkpoints (EECPs) has steadily increased since the beginning of 2018. In May, over 1.14 million crossings were recorded, which is a slight increase from April. It is notable that in May 2018 civilian crossings increased by 14 per cent compared to May 2017. The situation at the EECPs remained volatile, with shelling and sniper activities routinely reported at or near the checkpoints.
April 2018 was the deadliest month so far in 2018 with 13 people killed; 33 people injured. This is a 142 per cent increase in civilian casualties from March to April 2018. On 12 April, shelling forced more than 30 students to evacuate from a school bus, while travelling home in Zaitseve village (Donetsk NGCA). This was the fourth serious incident related to attacks on education since the beginning of 2018. On 17 April, a bus carrying 30 water treatment workers of the Donetsk Filter Station (DFS) was intentionally shot at, resulting in five workers getting injured, whereof one critically.
Despite the ‘Spring’ and ‘Easter’ ceasefires which began on 5 and 30 March respectively, clashes continued along both sides of the ‘contact line’ with severe impact on civilians. In March, shelling, mines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) killed 5 civilians and injured 13. Key infrastructure, such as water and electricity facilities continued to be regularly affected by shelling and harsh weather conditions. On several occasions, over 400 000 people were left without water, electricity and heat for over 24 hours, due to the harsh weather conditions.
Crossing the ‘contact line’ in eastern Ukraine continues to force millions of Ukrainians to endure dire conditions, long waiting hours and constant insecurity from shelling and mine contamination. Of particular concern is the lack of adequate facilities, such as heating/resting points, transportation, medical units and latrines in the “no man’s land” - a 2-km stretch between the EECPs of Government controlled areas (GCA) and Non-Government controlled areas (NGCA).
The humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine remains critical. The hostilities picked up again on both sides of the ‘contact line’ after a relative lull in January, while harsh weather conditions, with temperatures plummeting to below -20 Celsius over the last week of February further deepened people’s suffering. Disruption of critical water and power supply infrastructure due to heavy snow or indiscriminate shelling meant that at least 70 settlements on both sides of the ‘contact line’ remained without heat or water, sometimes for days.
US$ 204 million requested
US$ 71 million received
2.4 million targeted
1.1 million reached
January was marked by brief flare ups of hostilities and sporadic localized fighting particularly towards the end of the month. Damage to critical infrastructure, including gas pipelines and powerlines, meant that water supply for 4.2 million people in Donetska and Luhanska oblasts was constantly at risk of failure. Weather conditions deteriorated rapidly with heavy snowfall and temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees.
Despite a ceasefire over the New Year, which came into force on the 23 December, there has been an escalation in hostilities in Novoluhanske village* since 18 December, resulting in at least eight civilian injuries and damage to civilian infrastructure. Over 900 houses and apartments and two education facilities were damaged. An estimated 400 people left Novoluhanske for safe places in nearby locations. As of mid-January, approximately 155 people have reportedly returned, while many remain displaced as their houses were damaged.
In November 2017 there were 4.4 million men, women and children affected by the armed conflict in east Ukraine, of whom 3.4 million required humanitarian assistance and protection.
Crossing the 457-km ‘contact line’ remains challenging for millions of women, men and children moving between the government (GCA) and non-government controlled areas (NGCA) of eastern Ukraine. Despite constant insecurity due to shelling, shooting, and mine/unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination, approximately 1 million individual crossings were recorded in November 2017.