15:50 03.02.2017

OSCE SMM fears humanitarian, environmental catastrophe may occur in Avdiyivka

The hostilities in Avdiyivka are posing a threat of humanitarian and environmental catastrophe in the region, OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Principal Deputy Chief Monitor Alexander Hug said.

The bets have been raised, and the threat of a potential humanitarian and environmental catastrophe is looming, Hug said via Skype from Avdiyivka on Friday.

Infrastructures and water, power and gas grids should be functioning irrespective of the line of contact between the Donbas warring sides, he said.

The OSCE observers have been recording exceptionally high rates of Donbas ceasefire violations since January 29, he said, adding that thousands of shelling incidents were registered daily. For instance, over 11,000 attacks were observed on Tuesday. This is unprecedented, Hug said.

He said he was particularly concerned by the use of rocket launchers on the Avdiyivka - Yasynuvata - Donetsk Airport line. The OSCE recorded artillery, mortar and rocket launcher attacks within residential areas and on their perimeter, he said.

The overnight attacks on Donetsk and Matiupol caused civilian casualties, he said, quoting tentative reports.

The mission employs 724 observers, including 588 stationed in the east. There are also 332 locals and 93 foreigners working for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Hug said.

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