No power, water and food shortages: E. Ukrainian city survives amid army shelling

Patients and medical staff of Slavyansk hospital hide in the basement during the shelling of the hospital. (RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)

The humanitarian crisis in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk is worsening by day by day, amid disruption of water supplies and electricity, while emergency medical aid is unavailable due to gas shortages as fighting continues in some areas.

Early on Thursday morning, pro-Kiev troops targeted a church in
the Donetsk Region city, killing one man and partly destroying
the building.

A dog stands near a building damaged by shelling from government forces as they fight separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk June 16, 2014. (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

“Artillery fire at the city started at about 6 am from
Karachun Mountain [where the Ukrainian army’s artillery is
deployed] and lasted for about a half-hour,”
a local priest
was cited a saying by RIA Novosti.

“The shells fell right next to it: one flew half a meter from
the dome, the second exploded near the church, on the road; the
third hit the central gas pipeline near the lake. The main gas
pipeline has been blocked. The shells damaged the southern facade
of the church, but in general it is intact.”

A man who served as a security guard at the church sustained
severe head injuries and died of his wounds shortly afterward.

A shooting has been also reported in the town of Malinovka near

A building damaged by shelling from government forces is seen in the eastern Ukranian city of Slaviansk June 16, 2014. (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

Weeks of intense attacks by the Ukrainian army have left the city

Continued combat and army artillery fire have knocked out both
water and electricity supplies.

“Almost all medical facilities are closed,” the Donetsk
Region’s local administration said in a statement.
“Ambulances do not respond to calls due to a lack of

In addition, hospitals are not working in Donetsk, Kramatorsk,
Slavyansk and a number of areas in the Slavyansk district.

Thousands of people have neither tap nor drinking water supplies
as pumping stations were damaged in previous fighting between
Ukrainian troops and anti-government self-defense forces.

“They’ve bombed everything,” a local woman told RT.
“There’s no electricity, no water, no money, no work,
nothing. We don’t know what to do. We’re not leaving, we want to
live on this land.”

“Please help us,” said another woman. “Something
must be done, we’re being killed in Slavyansk.”

A woman sits on the ground while waiting for a bus to leave the eastern Ukranian city of Slaviansk June 17, 2014. (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

Slavyansk municipal services are scrambling to at least restore
water supplies to avoid an outbreak of disease. This is now the
“key problem,” a representative of the Donetsk Region’s
local administration said.

The local sanitary and epidemiological station’s laboratory was
damaged in the June 15 shelling and shut down. Now there are
mainly security concerns over chlorine deliveries for water
purification, local authorities said.

On June 10, Ukraine’s president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, ordered
the government to organize “humanitarian corridors” to transport
medical care for civilians, as well as a network of portable
stations providing civilians with drinking water, food and
medicine in troubled regions in the southeast of the country.

However, a week later, there “not a single corridor has been
Denis Pushilin, the chairman of the Supreme
Council of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk
(DPR), said Monday.

Despite thousands of civilians staying without water and medical
help, the UN said Monday that the situation in eastern Ukraine
had “worsened but it is not yet a humanitarian crisis.”

Residents collect water at a pumping station in the eastern Ukranian city of Slaviansk June 17, 2014. (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko slammed
the UN report as “absolutely
“unfair” and “biased.”

On Tuesday, Poroshenko declared a temporary, unilateral ceasefire
to give insurgents a chance to disarm. However, he didn’t
elaborate on the timing.

“The plan will start with my order on a unilateral
he said and added that it would be “pretty
and that Kiev “expects that disarmament of
military groups and restoration of order will take place right
after it.”

“A key element of this plan is the shutdown of the border.
There are huge risks that criminals will take advantage of the
he said.

In the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Poroshenko’s
statement has been called “absolutely absurd” in its
offer to self-defense forces “to surrender without any

“We clearly understood one thing: the statements of Kiev
can’t be trusted,”
the PM of the self-proclaimed Donetsk
People’s Republic, Aleksandr Boroday, said.

The opposition’s main demand is “the immediate withdrawal of
the occupation army of Ukraine from the territory of the Donetsk
People’s Republic.”

Eastern Ukraine has been a hotspot as Kiev recently intensified
its “anti-terrorist” operation with massive artillery attacks,
targeting hospitals and civilian homes. At least 356
people, including 257 civilians, including 14 children, have
died since the beginning of the
“anti-terrorist” operation in Ukraine’s eastern regions
of Lugansk and Donetsk, the UN has estimated.

A bakery assistant removes broken glass from a window after overnight shelling on a market in the eastern Ukranian city of Slaviansk June 17, 2014. (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

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