Kyiv-Donetsk region, March 17, 2016. The area between Avdiivka and Yasynuvata, including the water filtration plant situating there has been the focus of intense fighting over the past 2 weeks. The filtration station lies on the northern side of the line of contact. To get the water flowing six hours every day are needed. Recently, the security situation did not permit the workers to conduct their work. Their plant has been shelled. This was announced by Alexander Hug, Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine at the press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center via Skype from the water filtration plant. “There is no grey zone, Minsk does not foresee this. There is only a contact line set out in the Minsk accords and agreed to by the sides. But Minsk prohibits the sides from moving their positions forward. The closer the sides position to the line, the greater chance of violence and misunderstanding”, he argued. Mr Hug added that with thousands of rounds being fired every week now it is impossible to know who instigates specific exchanges of fire. However, he stated, shelling the plant represents a serious and fundamental escalation.
Also, according to the Principal Deputy Chief Monitor, there has been an escalation in the area. “On Sunday, for instance, we witnessed in just two hours over 320 explosions, including mortar, tank and automatic grenade launcher fire around Yasynuvata and Avdiivka”, he explained. Mr Hug noted that if previously there was some military rationale in shelling the infrastructure or it had gotten in the way of some other intended target, then this time, shelling the water plant has been deliberate. “Reckless endangering of civilians is a crime in itself but punitive measures against civilians represents a new low”, he argued.
According to the SMM, water reserves are almost exhausted in Avdiivka. People of Yasynuvata and in parts of Donetsk city – also reliant on the water from this plant – will be equally affected. If shelling won’t stop, this could lead to a critical healthcare if not humanitarian crisis. Also, a large amount of chlorine in the plant represents another threat. One shell landing in the wrong place could result in serious risks to the lives and health of local people.
After this patrol, Alexander Hug will travel today onwards to Luhansk.