Ukraine: UN calls on all parties to ensure access to safe drinking water in eastern region

In February 2015, volunteers unload a supply of bottled water, provided by UNICEF, from a vehicle in the city of Debaltsevo in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine. Photo: UNICEF/Aleksey Filippov

17 March 2016 – Concerned about the continuing impact of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine on civilians, the United Nations today called on all parties to ensure access to safe water in Donetsk, after security concerns forced the evacuation of staff from a water treatment facility that serves thousands of people in the area.

Currently, availability of clean water for over 300,000 people living in the Donetsk area is at risk because staff of the Voda Donbassa water treatment plant were evacuated on 13 March due to increased insecurity in the area, according to a press release from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“Disruption of the water system is a serious problem. If the water station does not resume operations immediately, the consequences for innocent civilians are severe. I call on all parties to the conflict to respect civilian installations,” said Neal Walker, Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine.

The plant normally provides half of the demand for treated water for Donetsk city and the surrounding area. OCHA says that at least 30,000 people living in Avdiivka are experiencing water shortages. Local authorities are providing water through trucks to schools and kindergartens but this is not a sustainable solution. Officials indicate the city has sufficient water reserves until this Thursday.

“Access to reliable and safe water supply is of particular importance for children and women. Disruption of basic services for undetermined periods of time severely impacts on the most vulnerable,” said Giovanna Barberis, Representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine.

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