The Finnish Peace Committee has been receiving reports of severe aggravation of the situation in the area of the armed conflict in Donbass.
Inhabitants of Donetsk heard intensive fire by heavy artillery on January 23rd (from 10 until 13) and 24th (13–17), initially launched by the Ukrainian side. On January 19 sounds of shelling were heard, the houses were shaking and sirens of cars went on because of blast waves.
The OSCE SMM in their report from January 24th confirms that the situation is getting more complicated. They state the majority of explosions were recorded in areas south-south-east of Avdiivka (government-controlled, 17km north of Donetsk), north-north-west of Donetsk city center (non-government-controlled) and in northerly directions of Shyrokyne (government-controlled, 100 km south of Donetsk).
Ukrainian media blame the “republics” in the intensification of war, noting Donetsk is delivering fire with 82-mm mortars, but 152-mm shells were reported to hit Donetsk. Both types of weapons are banned by the Minsk Agreements.
ONLY PART OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES IS MONITORED
Data on the conflict-caused civilian casualties and fatalities is not fully reflected in reports by international observation missions. Since January 1, 2020, the OSCE SMM reports only on cases of injuries caused by explosive devices excluding deaths at the checkpoints.
Several persons, including a child, were injured by mines in January both in government controlled and “republics” areas, one of them having died. One man was injured by artillery fire in Holubivka, a non-government controlled region.
There is no data in the OSCE SMM reports on civilian fatalities while crossing entry/exit military checkpoints. However, there is verified information of numerous fatalities among people queuing to cross the checkpoints.
On January 21 donpress.com reported the death of an 84 year-old man in Stanitsa Luhanska. Also on January 21st the Finnish Peace Committee reserved a copy of the medical death certificate stating that on January 17th, 2020 a man born in 1947 died at the Novotroitskoye checkpoint, the reason given was chest aortic puncture; he also suffered from anaemia, probably because of malnutrition. The information was communicated to the OSCE SMM, without any response.
Ukrainian human rights defender Levon Azizyan from Sievierodonetsk states that since January 1, 2019, 40 people have died at the checkpoints: 32 due to their health condition, six persons in a traffic accident near the Marijnka checkpoint. Two more perished when their car drove onto an explosive device in the “grey zone” near the Novotroitskoe checkpoint. 35 of these persons were more than 60 years old.
14 of the deaths occurred while crossing the Stanitsa Luganska checkpoint, 11 at the Maiorsk checkpoint, Maryinka checkpoint – ten people, of whom six were victims of the road accident. Novotroitskoye – five people, including the two who drove onto a mine. There were 27 men among those who died and 5 women. 22 victims were registered as having died in the territory controlled by Ukraine, seven – in the “grey zone” and 11 people died on the side which is not controlled by the government.
One of the Peace Committee contacts in the “Luhansk People’s Republic” states: ”Pensioners from the Luhansk “republic” have to arrive at the Luhansk bus station one day before the attempted crossing. They spend nights in a small room close to the ticket offices. Daily up to 30 people spend the night there. Rooms in a hostel are too expensive for them. Returning from Stanitsa Luhanska they spend another night there waiting for the next bus. They make this journey every 60 days.”
Another anonymous source informed us of a road accident which occurred on a highway near Volnovakha when a military vehicle drove over a civilian during the night. This information needs to be verified by international observation missions.