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OSCE warns of worsening humanitarian situation in east Ukraine

April 16, 2015, 17:59 UTC+3 KIEV
Spokesman for the OSCE special monitoring mission to Ukraine, highlighted "an enormous humanitarian threat" in Ukraine’s war-torn Donetsk and Luhansk regions
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KIEV, April 16. /TASS/. Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) say violations of the current ceasefire in Ukraine’s east have led to deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the area lacking supplies of food and medicine.

Speaking at a news briefing in Kiev on Thursday, Michael Bociurkiw, spokesman for the OSCE special monitoring mission to Ukraine, highlighted "an enormous humanitarian threat" in Ukraine’s war-torn Donetsk and Luhansk regions. He called on the conflicting parties to observe the truce agreed at peace talks in Minsk last month, noting that otherwise "it is impossible to provide humanitarian assistance to those remaining in the zone".

Under terms of the peace deal agreed by leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France on February 12, the ceasefire regime came into effect at midnight on February 15. The deal also sought pull-back of heavy weapons from the front line by at least 15 kilometres (9 miles), prisoner release and agreement for international observers to monitor the truce.

Bociurkiw said the mission had visited the town of Rovenki in the south of the Luhansk region where "as in many other towns, the humanitarian situation is deteriorating along the line of contact".

"There are towns where food and medical supplies are insufficient and people get only restricted support," he said, adding that in another settlement located "some 45 kilometres southwest of Luhansk, the humanitarian situation is very disturbing for local citizens, who have started selling their personal things in exchange for food".

Bociurkiw noted that "in comparison with previous months, there are fewer products in Donbas than earlier". Deterioration was also observed in the delivery of social services to the population.

"People, including local teachers, are not being paid pensions and wages for several months," he said.

Figures from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) show that more than 670,000 of people in Ukraine, including 90% residing in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics, are in urgent need of food, drinking water, hygiene products and medicine.

The UN said regional authorities were unable to continue humanitarian relief efforts due to insufficient funds. As of April 3, the biggest donation of $5 million came from Russia.

On Thursday, April 16, Russia's Emergencies Ministry dispatched its next humanitarian aid convoy for embattled east Ukraine. The procession of 120 trucks delivered more than 1,400 tons of cargo, including foodstuffs, essentials, building materials, books for schoolchildren and students and seeds for the sowing campaign.

Since August 2014, Russian convoys have delivered more than 30,000 tons of humanitarian supplies to Donetsk and Luhansk.

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