In the final week of June, five incidents disrupted water and sanitation systems in tumultuous Eastern Ukraine, according to a report by UNICEF.
The most notable of the incidents happened on June 29 near Horlivka, where exploding shells damaged water pipelines supplying more than 3.2 million people along the Siverski Donets-Donbass channel. The event affected people on both sides of the contact line, which separates government and non-government controlled areas.
“UNICEF once again calls for an immediate end to the indiscriminate shelling of vital civilian infrastructure and the protection of water workers. These women and men risk their lives to make sure children and families have access to clean water, a fundamental human right for all,” Laura Bill, UNICEF’s Ukraine Deputy Representative declared in a statement following the incidents.
Bill warned that the frequent water shutoffs force families to rely on dirty water and unsafe sanitation, a situation exacerbated by high summer temperatures. In April, several people fell ill with gastroenteritis when water access was cut off.
Water facilities have been damaged hundreds of times since the Eastern Ukrainian conflict began in 2014. In 2018, water supply was cut off 89 times in various locations across the region. This year, water and sanitation facilities have reportedly been damaged 58 times.
In some frequently-targeted areas, such as the city of Donetsk, many residents have been without water for months or years.
Despite recent talks between Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany, there is still no foreseeable end to the conflict between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatists.
Past reporting on Eastern Ukraine from Circle of Blue:
Kayla Ritter is a recent graduate of Michigan State University, where she studied International Relations and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She is currently based in Manton, Michigan. Kayla enjoys running, writing, and traveling. Contact Kayla Ritter