The UN OHCHR Office in Ukraine reports an increased risk of spread of epidemic diseases in the war-torn Donbas; almost 1.3 million local civilians are on the brink of the humanitarian crisis.
‘With no immediate ending in sight, the conflict continues to exacerbate the daily lives of thousands of people living on both sides of the ‘contact line’, deepening their dependence on external aid, and flattening hopes for a normal life. The trend of increased civilian casualties continues. Since March to 14 May 2017, OHCHR verified 178 civilian casualties (35 deaths and 143 injuries),’ the report says.
The UN insists that thousands of people find themselves on the edge of a large-scale humanitarian crisis. ‘Disruptions of water, energy and gas affected over 1.3 million people living on both sides of the ‘contact line’, as shelling hit facilities (including Donetsk and Horlivka Filer Stations, and South Donbas and Voda Donbasa water stations), gas pipelines, and electricity lines. As repair solutions came at varying stages, due to lack of access and insecurity (fighting, mines, UXOs), at times, disruption of energy and particularly water supply lasted more than 24 hours. Some of the critically affected areas by these multiple energy and water infrastructure incidents include Avdiivka, Mariupol, Popasna and Zolote (government-controlled area), Donetsk, Dokuchaievsk, Stakhanov, Spartak, Verkhnotoretske and Yasynuvata (non-government controlled area),’ the paper said.
‘In addition to exposure to constant shelling and damages, major energy and water supply systems are close to financial collapse. Utility companies in GCA and NGCA continue to struggle for solutions to financial and political issues at the expense of ordinary people. Such complex of energy/water-related issues have immediate and longer term impact, and significant humanitarian consequences. Lack of agreement to resolve the ongoing financial and bureaucratic bottlenecks put some 400,000 to 600,000 people on both sides of the ‘contact line’ at high risk not only of cuts, but of increased exposure to water-borne diseases outbreaks as well. With the temperatures on the rise towards summer season, the risk of water-related disease is expected to increase, with high likelihood for outbreaks of diarrhoea, cholera or hepatitis A. Vulnerable, elderly and disabled people living in multistorey buildings will face difficulties accessing water. Schools, elderly houses and hospitals may suffer water shortages,’ the UN OHCHR report says.