Situation in conflict-affected eastern Ukraine "dire"

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Nikolai sits in the basement of his apartment in the Kievsky district of Donetsk, Ukraine. Photo: UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

Conditions in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian separatists are fighting government forces have been described as "dire" by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The agency says it is extremely concerned about the worsening situation in that part of the country, particularly in the areas not controlled by the Ukrainian government.

According to the agency, the number of people who have been internally displaced by the conflict has reached the 1.1 million mark and over 670,000 others have fled to neighbouring countries.

Derrick Mbatha reports.

The UN Refugee Agency said that conditions in northern Donetsk and Luhansk are particularly dire.

The supply of water and electricity was often disrupted by shelling and rocket attacks, it added.

William Spindler is UNHCR Spokesperson in Geneva.

"Heavy shelling resulting in civilian deaths continues to be reported, especially around the town of Debaltseve, which was the scene of heavy fighting in February. The fighting makes the delivery of humanitarian aid to the many civilians trapped in the conflict areas extremely difficult. The scarcity of basic supplies, including food, fuel and medicines, has driven up prices of available supplies." (24")

Despite the security risks, UNHCR and its partners have delivered emergency assistance to some of the neediest civilians, including in areas under frequent bombardment.

For the first time, the agency reached two areas in Luhansk – Novopskov and Markivka – which were until now inaccessible to humanitarian agencies.

Derrick Mbatha, United Nations.



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