After five years of conflict over 3.5 million people in eastern Ukraine are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection, the United Nations Security Council was told last week.
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, addressing the Security Council April 25 on the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, reporting that so far in 2019, 24 incidents have affected water and sanitation facilities and 12 have directly affected schools. Mueller mentioned specifically the 1st Lift Station of the South Donbas Water Way that has experienced over 16 shelling attacks this year. This facility serves over 1 million people on both sides of the “contact line”.
“Since I last briefed this Council, civilian workers came under small-arms fire while conducting emergency repairs of impacted power lines in Marinka (Donetska oblast, GCA) and water pipelines damaged in the area between Berezove (Donetska oblast, GCA) and Olenivka (Donetska oblast, NGCA). While no casualties were reported due to these incidents, the repair works were suspended and further delayed, as the workers were forced to evacuate to safe areas.” (United Nation Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
Mueller has called for international humanitarian law to be upheld by all parties; protection of civilians and their access to critical services at all times is paramount.
Mueller delivered three messages for consideration of the Security Council:
- Improve ability of affected communities to move more freely across the “contact line”. In the past two months, there have been 12 civilian deaths at checkpoints in eastern Ukraine, mostly due to health issues. Mobility for disabled and elderly has to be improved so that they can access critical healthcare and banking facilities. Mueller encouraged rebuilding the pedestrian bridge of Stanytsia Luhanska and an improvement of checkpoint conditions.
- Improve humanitarian support in eastern Ukraine and unimpeded and sustained access for humanitarian organizations to the affected areas.
- Increase humanitarian funding. Mueller stated that the UN and its partners need $162 Million USD to continue its protection and assistance to restore access to essential services and critical infrastructure.
Mueller concluded: “The people of Ukraine continue to suffer the effects of this conflict. We must redouble our efforts to provide them with all necessary assistance and protection. I also call on the parties to find solutions to this crisis, in order to avoid further suffering. The people of Ukraine deserve nothing less.”
Further Reading On Water And Violence In Ukraine
One of the tragic consequences of the Ukraine conflict has been the risk to water facilities in Donetsk and Luhansk, especially treatment plants near the line of contact and the adjoining stocks of chlorine. Despite 3 Minsk agreements, shelling on these assets has not declined and poses a potentially grave risk.
“Water and Violence: Ukraine”, published by think-tank Strategic Foresight Group in February 2019 examines the prospects of securing critical water infrastructure in Donbass, eastern Ukraine, and considers what can be done by relevant actors and the international community.