Both parties of the conflict have started withdrawal of tanks and guns of caliber smaller than 100 mm from the front lines, unrecognized LNR and DNR claimed about the postponement of the local elections, IDPs started to come home. More details about key events in Donbas during last week in our weekly review.
Demarcation line and withdrawal of weapons
Last week, the first stage of withdrawal of weapons from the demarcation line has been started. It was agreed by the Normandy Quartet in Paris. Thus, removal of tanks was carried out by two warring parties in Luhansk region. It was recorded by the representatives of OSCE SMMU – Special Monitoring Mission. According to it, more than 30 tanks have been removed from LNR.
By the end of this week, the first stage of withdrawal of the tanks in Luhansk region has been completed. International observers will check correspondence between the individual serial numbers and locations redeployment of tanks at a distance of not less than 15 kilometers from the demarcation line.
According to the headquarters of ATO, it is planned to carry out the withdrawal of tanks, artillery and mortars from the demarcation line in Donetsk region on October 19 (after the full withdrawal of weapons in Luhansk region). OSCE observers will control the compliance with the agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.
Meanwhile, a logistics center and a new checkpoint was opened in the village Novotroitskoye among the demarcation line. There are the department of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine, where the people can pay taxes. In addition, there are an affiliate of Oshchadbank and Ukrposhta, pharmacy.
Situation on Donbas territories under Ukrainian control
Donbas conflict has predictably negative impact on the indicators of the industrial sector of the region and the whole country. Last week it became known that coal-mining enterprises of Ukraine reduced coal production by 44.5% in January-March 2015 compared to the same period in 2014 (up to 29.643 million tons).
Donbas coal-mining enterprises, which are under the control of the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry, decreased the production by 67.3% – to 5.16 million tons, including coking coal production decreased by 63.8% – to 1.461 million tons, the energy – by 68.6%, to 3.555 million tons during January-September 2015.
Last week, Petro Poroshenko, stated that international coalition would help Ukraine to restore the destroyed infrastructure of Donbas. It will not be the bearing cross of Ukrainian taxpayers. Moreover, Poroshenko assured that this is one of the key elements of the “Minsk Agreement.”
Last week the Ministry of Infrastructure claimed that more than 50 million loans amounted 500 million euros from Germany will be used to restore the transport infrastructure in the East of Ukraine (as a confirmation of the abovementioned thesis). The plans of the Ministry of Infrastructure – are acquisition of two mobile traction substations, which are necessary for the restoring the railway infrastructure on Donbas territories under Ukrainian control. Restoration of railway tracks will allow to withdraw the rolling stock and take out goods, in particular, the coal needed for winterizing Ukrainian power plants.
Furthermore, the Verkhovna Rada allowed Donetsk and Luhansk regions to use the funds from the local budgets for the departments, which are located on the temporarily uncontrolled territories. According to the project, money should be transferred to the restoration of the damaged (destroyed) objects of social and transport infrastructure, housing and life support systems in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as socio-economic development of such areas.
One of the major consequences of the conflict, apart from the economic crisis, are uncleared (full of mines) areas. By the beginning of the year, 76 people have been affected by mines in Luhansk region. According to regional police, since the beginning of the year till mid-September, nearly 100 civilians were hit by a mine in Donetsk region, 22 among them died.
Situation on Donbas territory beyond the Ukrainian control
There is a complicated situation on the territory controlled by DNR. According to their data, during the hostilities there were destroyed more than 10 thousand private homes and buildings. In addition, according to the DNR, 3901 civilians were killed during the shillings in Donetsk region. More than 6000 people were injured.
Moreover, there is an intricate issue related to the provision of medicines to the uncontrolled territories. Especially it comes about the patients with HIV/AIDS (Donbas residents). As a result, some of them were forced to terminate the treatment. Nowadays, according to “Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV” association, there are 6000 infected persons, who live on uncontrolled territory of Donbas.
There are some positive developments in the contest of resolving the conflict by political means. In particular, it is about an agreement to prorogue the local elections in “DNR” and “LNC” for 2016. However, Ukrainian party has to carry out certain conditions, namely: to adopt appropriate legislative changes that ensure the participation of uncontrolled territories in the elections, as well as an amnesty for participants in the events in Donbas.
IDPs from Donbas
Last week, the number of IDPs from Donbas and Crimea reached 1 million 517 thousand 116 people. These data were presented on October 5 by the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine.
About a half of these families applied for the benefits. According to the Ministry, the majority has received such aid. In general, according to the agency, UAH 2.49 billion were allocated to IDPs.
At the same time, on the background of the military lull, there is an increasing number of IDPs and significant outflow of refugees from the territory of the Russian Federation. According to the Migration Service of the Russian Federation, about 1300-1500 people have returned to Ukraine from Rostov region during last 10 days. Relocation of IDPs is also discussed in Ukrainian regions.
However, voluntary assistance is still necessary for those, who have left home in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Specialized organizations keep on doing their active work. Last week, Center of advisory help, which was founded by community initiative “Restoring Donbas”, launched a free expert advice of pediatrician, therapist, psychologist and psychotherapist for IDPs, who live in Kiev. In addition, the second round of the program of business support for IDPs from the Danish Refugee Council has been started. It is planned to give 200 grants from $ 250 to $ 1,000 for existing micro-businesses, which plan to expand the activity, as well as to restore the business assets, which were lost due to relocation.
Local elections in Donbas and the vote of IDPs
Preparations for the local elections are keep on going in Ukraine. However, the issue of IDP’s voting still remains unresolved. Andriy Magera – the deputy head of the Central Election Commission – stated that the main difficulty in the organization of elections for IDPs from Donbas is the logistics. He added that there are problems with the delivery of ballots from one place to another and back to the territorial election commissions.
Concerning the elections on the uncontrolled territory, it is expected that there will be no elections until April. Such forecast was made by Yuriy Lutsenko – the head of the BPP. In addition, the CEC stated that the elections in some regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions need a special Law and restoring of the registry of voters.
The work of humanitarian organizations
The work of international humanitarian organizations is still limited on Donbas territories beyond the control of Ukrainian government. However, population from the the border areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions are regularly provided by assistance (thanks to the changes in the procedure for crossing the demarcation line). According to the innovations, simplified inspection can be carried out towards the humanitarian supplies of international organizations that are included in the special list of the Ministry of Social Policy.
Last week, International Committee of the Red Cross allocated 200 sets of food and household products to residents of Avdeevka (Donetsk region). In addition, the rescuers of State Emergency Service of Ukraine delivered humanitarian aid to residents of Mariupol, Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk. In general, 60 thousand cans of canned fish and 80 tons of butter were delivered allocated from the state reserve).
In addition, there is also nonfood assistance. Thus, it became known that Czech Republic would finance the holidays for 480 children from ATO zone in Ukrainian resorts. It was stated by Ivan Počuch – Czech Ambassador –during the briefing on October 6. It is planned to take children to recreation resorts in Odessa, Carpathians region, Ternopil region and Pusche Voditsa. The Ambassador also noted that it will be the fist travelling outside the Donetsk and Luhansk regions for the majority of children.
Last week it became known that the leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia might meet in the “Norman format” before the end of 2015. It was confirmed by by French President Francois Hollande during his speech at the European Parliament. He said that the Minsk process is keep on going. He recalled the last meeting of Normandy Quartet and noted that it was “particularly effective due to the fact that the separatists have transferred their elections.”