17:55 23.12.2020

Military conflict in Donbas leads to environmental disaster in region, Ukraine, but govt ignores problem – opinion

4 min read

KYIV. Dec 23 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The war in the East of Ukraine caused not only an economic and social crisis, but also large environmental problems that will lead the region to an environmental disaster, according to representatives of the All-Ukrainian NGO Community-Native Donbas and experts.

"The conditions in which the region found itself caused not only the loss of military personnel and civilians, but also more than 7,000 kilometers of mined farmland, burned forests and plantings, as well as the loss of sources of drinking and fresh water, and flooded mines," member of the board of All-Ukrainian NGO Community-Native Donbas Borys Adamov at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine on Wednesday.

According to him, the criticality of the situation is that hostilities are taking place in an industrially loaded region with a huge number of over 4,000 potentially dangerous industrial facilities. Adamov said that ten years ago, before the military confrontation, the ecological situation in Donbas was also critical and up to 37% of harmful emissions in the balance of Ukraine accounted for Donetsk region.

In 2020, the problem of possible radioactivity in the region was added. At the same time, the military conflict only aggravated the social and economic situation, the ecological situation and medical problems associated with the life of people in the region.

According to Chairman of the Board of All-Ukrainian NGO Community-Native Donbas Tetiana Bakhteeva, there is a critical shortage of medicines, quality treatment and medical personnel in Donbas. In addition, there was a lack of transport for the transportation of patients, and normal living conditions. Experts believe that the reason for this neglect of the situation is the lack of interest of the regional authorities and low salaries of doctors.

"In the 2021 budget, the salary of doctors is UAH 6,000, the salary of nurses is UAH 4,000. About 150,000 of my medical colleagues went to work abroad, where they give a full social guarantee. This is the provision of children (kindergartens, schools), apartments for temporary residence, and a decent salary, which for a family doctor in Poland is EUR 3,000," Bakhteeva said.

According to her, as of today, there are 139 hospitals on the territory of the region controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. According to the UN, some 150 hospitals have been damaged since the start of the war. In addition, residents of 40 settlements located near the contact line do not have the opportunity to receive medical assistance. Member of the board of All-Ukrainian NGO Community-Native Donbas Valentyn Landyk and Serhiy Tretiakov believe that the Ukrainian authorities ignore the problems of Donetsk region, which is one of the key problems. According to them, the military conflict will not be resolved without solving environmental problems.

According to political scientist Andriy Buzarov, if an environmental disaster occurs in Donbas, it will automatically go beyond its limits. In this context, he notes the problem of the lack of effectiveness of the work of the reintegration committee.

In the context of reintegration, the political scientist identified three groups of people dealing with this issue: people who do this only because of their position; those who genetically hate Ukrainians in Donbas; and a group of corrupt officials who, under the guise of reintegration, want to earn big money.

"The point is in public policy, which has not changed from 2014 to December 2020. If we look at the situation in March, when [Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Minister for the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Oleksiy] Reznikov was appointed, he fired people who worked in the ministry and were from Donbas. And after all the actions he called Donbas as a cancer of Ukraine," Buzarov said.