OSCE SMM: We continue to observe relative calm, though much more needs to be done to make this ceasefire sustainable

OSCE SMM: We continue to observe relative calm, though much more needs to be done to make this ceasefire sustainable
September 24, 2015.

Kyiv, 24 September 2015 – The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) for the third consecutive week continues to observe relative calm, said Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM in Ukraine during the press briefing at Ukraine crisis media center. According to the SMM, even as situation in and around Horlivka remains tense, there are fewer firing incidents at the Donetsk airport and no heavy weapons use in Luhansk region. On Monday, there were no cease-fire violations both in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

However, Mr. Hug argues: “More needs to be done to make this ceasefire sustainable as there still clear and present danger of reescalation”. The live-fire exercises that are held very close to the contact line, undermine the ceasefire and create uncertainty among forces from both sides of contact, he added.

The SMM continues to register the military movement both in and outside the government-controlled areas of Donetsk region. In the case of the latter, monitors saw dozens of trucks, transporting supplies, equipment and personnel, as well as weapons including tanks, mortars, and howitzers. According to Deputy Chief Monitor, heavy weapons continue to be missing from the holding areas on both sides. In this regard, the SMM requested the Joint Center for Control and Coordination to provide an updated list with locations of all weapons withdrawn under the February Minsk agreement. “Failure to provide this list directly undermines the effective monitoring and verification requested by the trilateral contact group,”underlined Mr. Hug.

Alexander Hug also outlined two major challenges that the conflict affected citizens are facing. First challenge is the threat of landmines, unexploded ordinance and explosive remnants of war. According to Mr. Hug, the rate of casualties in this regard continued to grow. “These objects threaten the lives of civilians; hamper the use of fields for agriculture and the repair of gas, water and electricity systems. Those who have laid and installed these mines in contravention of the Minsk agreements must remove them. They should take clear and immediate steps to map all affected areas, to mark and fence off all such areas,” he stressed. The SMM has also issued awareness campaign materials that can be distributed in schools and other public places to bring public attention to the risk these mines can cause.

The second challenge, according to Hug, is the upcoming winter, as people living close to the line of contact keep lacking food, medicine and reconstruction and isolation materials for homes, schools and other building that are in urgent need of repair.

The SMM also monitored the blocking of crossing points to Crimea organized by Crimean Tatars. “The situation was occasionally tense but no incidents were registered,” concluded Deputy Chief Monitor.

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