March 2020 has been one of the hardest months for people living in the conflict area in Donbass. After a severe aggravation of the situation on February 18, 2020, the number of ceasefire violations keeps to an average level of approximately 300. There are also reports of a sharp increase in the number of civilian casualties and even fatalities.
In total there have been registered 13 accidents involving civilians which occurred at the end of February and in March. The total number of civilians affected is 18. Two elderly men were killed. Three people younger than 18 were injured (two boys and a girl), and nine men and six women.
Since the beginning of March the Finnish Peace Committee has received the following information:
On March 23 a 13-year-old boy was wounded due to a shelling when he was at home. On March 22 a 17-year-old girl wounded in the village of Alexandrovka of Donetsk Region was contacted by a one of our sources and we could to talk to her.
On March 21 two civilians were wounded, women born in 1976 and 2002, residents of Donetsk and the neighbouring village of Alexandrovka.
On March 20, a woman living in the Donetsk Petrovsky district received a non-life-threatening wound in early morning shelling.
On March 14, a family of three, grandparents and their grandson born in 2006, were wounded in the shelling of the city Gorlovka.
On March 9 a man was wounded in Zaytsevo near Gorlovka.
A multi-apartment building at 15 Zhukov Street in Donetsk was damaged by shelling on March 17th and the Finnish Peace Committee informed the OSCE SMM about this. They confirmed the case in the daily dispatch 69/2020.
The OSCE SMM followed up on Finnish Peace Committee reports on the death of an old man due to shelling of the Sihnalne settlement in their daily dispatch 67/2020. One of the contacts of the FPC, a Donetsk-based humanitarian volunteer Andrey Lysenko, happened to witness the shelling of Sihnalne in which the elderly man was killed.
There was also a report on two civilians who were killed in shelling in the Luhansk Region (outside the part controlled by Ukraine) on March 2. Both sides of the conflict used this for disinformation purposes: while the “Luhansk republic” side claimed the two killed people were their civilians, the Ukrainian side claimed the dead were their humanitarian volunteers delivering bread to their positions. Neither was true, as the FPC managed to establish.
The OSCE SMM reported on a number of other civilian casualties and fatalities affected by the conflict in March.
On March 13, in government-controlled Marinka, the SMM reported on a civilian car being damaged by gunfire in the center of the settlement. The driver was in his 70s.
On March 9, the SMM reported on a married couple receiving medical treatment in non-government-controlled Luhansk (a man in his 50s and a woman in her 20s, residents of the village of Mykolaivka, non-government-controlled, 15km east of Luhansk) after stepping on a mine on the bank of Siverskyi Donets River on March 1. Each victim lost a leg.
On March 4, the SMM reported on a man injured in Dokuchaievsk (non-government-controlled, 30km southwest of Donetsk) while working in his garden.
On March 2 a 74-year-old woman was injured in Krasnohorivka (government-controlled, 21km north of Donetsk). The woman had been admitted to hospital with an eye injury and a concussion caused by shelling, according to the SMM report. In the same report the SMM told of two more civilian victims affected in the city of Dokuchaievsk (non-government-controlled, 30 km southwest of Donetsk). The SMM saw a man with light injuries to his hands and face, and a woman with light injuries to the right side of her face and a bandaged right wrist. The incident occurred less than 1 km from the contact line.
In March the OSCE SMM also reported a number of cases which occurred at the end of February. On February 28, a man (aged 60), got a bullet wound while returning from the government-controlled part through military checkpoints. On February 27 a man died of bleeding after he had stepped on an antipersonnel mine in Pionerske (non-government-controlled, 19km east of Luhansk). The same day, February 27th, a man was injured due to the explosion of an object in Donetsk city’s Kyivskyi district.
The OSCE SMM also reported on a number of accidents which involved civilian objects as targets. On March 10, the SMM saw fresh craters near inhabited houses in Syhnalne (non-government-controlled, 23 km southwest of Donetsk). On March 12 the SMM reported on the damage to an inhabited house in the settlement of Holmivskyi (non-government-controlled, 49km north-east of Donetsk). On March 15 the SMM noted signs of heavy-machine gun fire rounds at a booth at which documents of civilians passing through were processed at a checkpoint controlled by armed formations near the city of Gorlovka. On March 21 the SMM reported on damage from shelling to a non-functional school in Donetsk.