Around 400-500 coalminers living near the militant-controlled town of Bilorechensky have not received salaries for over a year. It is nearly impossible to obtain supplies, as transport access to traditional markets has been disrupted, said Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
The economic situation in militant-controlled areas has exacerbated further due to the separation of food-producing and urbanized areas.
“Local farmers face more risks due to the number of unexploded ordnances in the region,” explained Hug.
International monitors visited the village of Shyrokyne and confirmed that all civilians have left the village. Additionally, there was no record of a “DPR” presence.
“Up to 80 percent of civilian houses and infrastructure have been damaged beyond repair. The area is polluted with unexploded ordnances,” said Hug, describing the aftermath of a struggle lasting over 10 months between Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed militants around the village.
The militants established other positions in the neighboring village of Sakhanka. Alexander Hug noted that residents of the villages of Berdyanske and Sopyne are now exposed to shelling incidents, and may face the same fate as Shyrokyne.
In the meantime, the SMM facilitated a local ceasefire for the repair and de-mining of a major water pipeline between the government-controlled Mayorsk and the “DPR”-controlled Horlivka. The pipeline was damaged in December 2014, while its further deterioration could disrupt the water supply to 2.5 million people, including the residents of Mariupol.
“Successful start of repairing works is an example of how both sides can engage constructively, while wider engagement is possible,” Alexander Hug said.
Transport movement across the contact line remains another major problem.
“We saw 211 vehicles queuing to cross to government-controlled areas and 200 vehicles on the other side at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in Zaytseve. Many people need to maintain family contacts, buy food and medicine and receive pensions,” Hug concluded.