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Donetsk Republic defence official calls situation in Debaltsevo "near disaster"

January 31, 2015, 20:52 UTC+3 DONETSK

About a thousand residents have left the city in their private cars or by busses over the past several days

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DONETSK, January 31. /TASS/. Humanitarian situation in the east-Ukrainian city of Debaltsevo, a major transport hub near Donetsk, is near disaster, Eduard Basurin, a spokesman for the Defence Ministry of the self-proclaimed unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic said on Saturday quoting data from the reconnaissance groups operating in the city.

"Heating, water and electricity supplies have been knocked out of operation," he said. "In spite of fierce resistance put up by the enemy (pro-Kiev army and 'national guard' units) who has installed his positions in dwelling houses and apartments, we don't put up any obstacles to the evacuation of civilians from Debaltsevo on our part."

"About a thousand residents have left the city in their private cars or by busses over the past several days," Basurin said.

Along with it, an attempt of four combat vehicles with an armored command personnel carrier at the head and three trucks with the Ukrainian military aboard moving inside a column of local residents' private cars to get out of the city was registered on Saturday morning.

"This attempt of the Ukrainian military to escape was disrupted by warning shots in the air, after which the cars with local residents left the place without any obstacles," Basurin said.

He indicated that preventive fire had been opened by the units of East-Ukrainian self-defence forces blocking the automobile road that links Debaltsevo and the town of Artyomovsk.

On Friday, the UN issued an appeal to the Ukrainian military and DPR self-defence forces to sign a provisional truce that would enable people living Debaltsevo and the nearby city of Gorlovka to evacuate and would give an opportunity to deliver humanitarian aid there.

The Spokesperson for the UN Secretary General, Stephane Dujarric indicated that the UN humanitarian coordinator in Ukraine, Neal Walker, had called for an immediate humanitarian truce "to allow humanitarian assistance and evacuation of civilians".

"Indiscriminate shelling of civilians violates international humanitarian law and must stop," Walker was quoted by international media as saying in a statement.

Dujarric stressed the UN’s grave concern over the humanitarian situation in Debaltsevo and Gorlovka where shells have been raining down over the previous several days.

Specifically, he said the UN continued getting veritable information suggesting that the positions of the military were located too close to the densely populated areas of the two cities and civilian facilities, including hospitals, schools, and shelters for the elderly.

Even one shell could inflict huge damage and bring about a heavy loss of lives among civilians there, Dujarric said.

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