Daily Archives: December 15, 2017

Security Council Sanctions Committee on Central African Republic Meets with Panel of Experts, Hears Briefings on Weapons, Ammunition Management

On 4 December 2017, the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the Central African Republic held informal consultations to consider the final report of the Panel of Experts and hear briefings by the United Nations Mine Action Service and United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) on weapons and ammunition management in the country.

In its presentation on the key findings and recommendations detailed in the report, the panel noted that the security situation, particularly in the south‑east and north‑west, had remained volatile and that no substantial progress on the political process had been achieved during the reporting period.  The panel highlighted that self‑proclaimed self‑defence groups, loosely connected to some members of the anti‑balaka movement, had continued to implement their agenda of “liberation” of the south‑east, specifically targeting Muslims and peacekeepers.  These attacks were fuelled by inflammatory anti‑Muslim and anti‑United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) rhetoric and disseminated via Bangui‑based instigators.

The panel noted that the dynamics among ex‑Séléka factions had changed after the signing of the Ippy agreement on 9 October 2017, which resulted in halting the intra‑Séléka fighting, securing freedom of movement on the Bria‑Bambari Road and reopening of the transhumance corridors.  The panel also underlined that anti‑balaka and self‑proclaimed self‑defence groups had taken over the arms trafficking routes from Union pour la paix en Centrafrique in Bema, south‑east of Bangassou bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while in the north, arms trafficking activities by ex‑Séléka factions had temporarily decreased, owing to the rainy season.

Delegations emphasized that more cooperation was needed among the regional States to counter arms trafficking, and expressed concern with regard to the implementation of travel ban by the regional States.  They also recalled the importance of the Central African Republic authorities implementing the asset freeze concerning listed nationals.

Providing an update since its last briefing to the Committee in May 2017, the representative of the Mine Action Service noted that his organization continued to actively assist national authorities of the Central African Republic by providing technical advice and expertise, building and refurbishing weapons and ammunition storage facilities and, in cooperation with UNIDIR, assisting the Central African Republic authorities in implementation of the two‑year (2017-2018) small arms and light weapons road map aimed at producing a national strategy and action plan.  In his first briefing to the Committee, the representative of UNIDIR provided preliminary findings concerning its report on weapons and ammunition management in the Central African Republic, which would be published in the beginning of 2018.

Members of the Committee welcomed the briefings by the Mine Action Service and UNIDIR.  Several members expressed appreciation for the panel’s final report, noting in particular the importance of its work in monitoring incitement to violence by armed groups, political leaders, religious and civil society representatives in the Central African Republic.  Several members of the Committee also underlined the importance of ensuring the security of members of the Panel of Experts in the implementation of its mandate pursuant to paragraphs 27 and 28 of resolution 2339 (2017).

Record temperatures, refugee wishlists, and a grim anniversary for South Sudan: The cheat sheet

Every week, IRIN’s team of specialist editors scans the humanitarian horizon to curate a reading list on important and unfolding trends and events around the globe:

War without end

Few anniversaries offer less cause for celebration than that marked today in South Sudan. On 15 December, 2013, a simmering power struggle between the country’s president and sacked vice-president erupted into gunfire that quickly degenerated into a full-scale civil war. As the conflict enters its fifth year, no peace in sight, the data associated with the humanitarian crisis is numbing:  7.6 million people in the country need assistance for their day-to-day survival; 2.1 million have fled to live as refugees in neighbouring states; 1.9 million are displaced within South Sudan; 4.8 million are estimated to be severely food insecure (a figure expected to rise in the coming months); and almost 1.1 million children under five are acutely malnourished. For those still inside South Sudan, “violence and human rights violations continue unchecked and have become a persistent reality for civilians,” the UN’s emergency aid coordination arm, OCHA, said, as it put the cost of addressing needs at $1.7 billion. Meanwhile, the economy is tanking and the cost of living soaring, especially in urban areas. In the capital, Juba, inflation topped 180 percent this year. A cholera epidemic of record duration – it began in June 2016 and is expected to continue into 2018 – is just one example of the country’s major health crisis. Here at IRIN we’ve been keeping a close watch on the conflict, highlighting, for example, its spread into previously peaceful regions such as Equatoria with multimedia reportage, examining the impact on neighbouring states of vast refugee flows, assessing the impact of hate speech from the diaspora, and critically analysing fruitless efforts to bring about peace.

What refugees really want

Efforts launched 15 months ago to improve international refugee response moved into higher gear recently. A series of five thematic discussions was held between July and November, and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi this week gathered some 500 representatives to take stock of the consultations so far. Most absent perhaps: the opinions of refugees themselves. This timely report from the Norwegian Refugee Council remedies that. During two months of research in 10 city and camp locations in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya, NRC researchers spoke to almost 300 refugees from nine countries, collecting their perspectives on gaps and challenges and trying to understand why so many moved to urban areas with little support or undertook risky migration journeys rather than accept the relative protection and assistance of camps. Strikingly, it is not material concerns such as food or even healthcare that dominate but more fundamental issues such as status and freedom and movement. What bothers the refugees most is the ability to secure refugee status in the first place, and then the freedom to move and work. Protection, basic assistance, and services are all rendered fairly meaningless without the ability to live and work in asylum countries. Major concerns cited include: government policies apparently designed to make it more difficult to claim asylum; delays in refugee determination procedures; and documentation problems that make it impossible to establish a legal identity and register births. The report called on the new Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, or CRRF, to look at efforts to secure status and documentation as a priority. It also highlighted frustrations over lack of freedom of movement and the inability to work, earn an income, and be self-reliant, noting how often the words ‘prison’ and ‘imprisonment’ were used. The report’s recommendations should be essential reading as the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, leads formal consultations on the new framework from February, ahead of its proposal to the General Assembly later in 2018. But it is the pull quotes at the side (the words of the refugees themselves) that leave the longest mark. As one Eritrean interviewee put it: “We are not living here, we are just breathing while dying inside.”

The allure of Yemen

The number of irregular migrants travelling from the Horn of Africa to Yemen and Saudi Arabia dwarfs the number migrating from the Horn towards Europe, says a new report by the Institute for Security Studies. Despite Yemen’s vicious war, the humanitarian crisis, a vigorous kidnapping and torture-for-ransom industry, and threats of deportation by Yemeni and Saudi authorities, migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia continue to travel to Yemen in the hope of reaching labour markets in the Gulf.  In 2016, a record 117,107 irregular arrivals were recorded in Yemen, 83 percent of which were Ethiopians, the rest Somalis. Based on the average payment to smugglers ($200–$500 from Ethiopia to Yemen via Djibouti), at a conservative estimate the smuggling networks earned $4.5 million in 2016. Revenues generated by migrant smuggling from Somalia to Yemen was in the range of $10 million. What’s hard to calculate are the earnings from smuggling people from Yemen and on to Saudi Arabia, the report noted. It points out that there are few incentives for governments in source countries to crack down on migration because of the remittances it generates. Similarly, transit countries also benefit economically from the smuggling business. And, for destination countries, there is a clear demand for cheap labour. The report, as now seems routine, calls for policies “that address the underlying drivers of migration” rather than simplistic and counter-productive law enforcement measures.

Building the case for human-caused disasters
 

Record global temperatures in 2016, including an extreme heatwave through large swathes of Asia, would have been impossible without the impacts of human-caused climate change, according to a recently released collection of peer-reviewed studies. The report by the American Meteorological Society analysed extreme weather in 2016. It underscored how human-caused climate change exacerbated the impacts or boosted the likelihood of extreme weather throughout the world, including drought recorded in Africa, extreme rain in China, and tinder-dry conditions that led to wildfires in North America and Australia. But the studies also found that multiple extreme weather events would have been impossible without human influence – a first for the annual report. These include extreme heatwaves, such as one in Southeast Asia that triggered record temperatures in Thailand. Drought that year impacted millions throughout the region, including two million people in Vietnam, where the worst drought in nearly a century forced the country to ask for international aid. The report adds to the growing body of research around “event attribution” science, which examines climate change as a cause of specific weather events. This research is particularly important for smaller vulnerable countries that have long called for a global system to compensate for destruction associated with climate change. During November’s climate change summit in Bonn, larger countries were accused of squashing progress toward a so-called “loss and damages” compensation scheme. But these discussions will carry on in 2018 as countries continue to thrash out how to implement climate commitments made under the 2015 Paris Agreement. Read IRIN’s recent reporting on attribution science and climate change here.

Did you miss it?

Counting the dead

Barred from investigating claims of ethnic cleansing within Myanmar, rights groups, NGOs and UN officials have instead relied on the accounts of some of the 655,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh since late August. This week, a study from Médecins Sans Frontières attempted to quantify widespread claims of razed villages and mass killings in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State. Using data from household surveys in Rohingya camps, MSF researchers estimated that between 6,700 and almost 9,900 people were killed violently in the weeks following a sweeping Myanmar army crackdown. The findings, MSF says, represent a staggering tally showing that killings peaked in the week immediately following 25 August, when a small group of Rohingya fighters attacked police and border posts in Rakhine. 

Myanmar has continued to stonewall the UN fact-finding mission tasked with investigating rights abuses in Rakhine and elsewhere in the country. Instead, investigators have turned their attention to other countries where people have sought refuge: the UN investigators recently interviewed Rohingya and other minority groups in Malaysia

(TOP PHOTO: A Rohingya patient is treated for injuries at an MSF clinic in Kutupalong, Bangladesh in September 2017. CREDIT: Antonio Faccilongo/MSF)

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Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 14 December 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions compared with the previous reporting period. The Mission assessed impact sites in residential areas in Dokuchaievsk, Luhanske and Horlivka. In Kalynove-Borshchuvate, the SMM observed damage to a power line caused by shelling. The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske and recorded ceasefire violations inside the Petrivske disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere.* The Ukrainian Armed Forces representative to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) shared with the SMM a letter from the Russian Federation informing Ukraine about the Russian Federation’s intention to withdraw its Armed Forces officers from the JCCC. The SMM saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Oleksandropil. The Mission followed up on the situation of civilians living in Travneve and Hladosove; it heard that electricity was supplied to Travneve and Hladosove and that the regular bus service between Travneve and Novoluhanske had resumed. The SMM facilitated and monitored repairs to a power line in Avdiivka and observed the completion of the repairs. It also facilitated and monitored repairs of essential infrastructure near Zalizne, Artema and Vesela Hora. The SMM visited a border area outside of government control.

In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations,[1] including about 330 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 520 explosions).

On the evening and night of 13-14 December, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, an undetermined explosion, six projectiles in flight from east to west and two projectiles from west to east, followed by a total of 24 undetermined explosions and five projectiles (three from west to east and two from east to west), all 0.5-1.5km south. In the early evening of 14 December, the same camera recorded, in sequence, seven projectiles in flight from east to west and four projectiles from west to east, followed by a total of two undetermined explosions, an illumination flare in flight from east to west and ten projectiles (seven from east to west and three from west to east), all 0.5-1.5km south.

During the day on 14 December, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about six and a half hours, the SMM heard about 50 undetermined explosions and about 100 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-4km south-west and west.

Positioned on the south-western edge of government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard five undetermined explosions and small-arms fire, all 2-5km at directions ranging from east to south.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Holmivskyi (49km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard three undetermined explosions 2-3km north-north-east, two undetermined explosions 2-3km north-west, and five undetermined explosions 3-6km north-west – all assessed as having occurred near government-controlled Travneve and Hladosove (both 51km north-east of Donetsk), areas around which the SMM had previously observed military presence. (See SMM Daily Report 7 December 2017.)

Positioned in government-controlled Novoluhanske (53km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard an explosion assessed as an outgoing artillery (122mm) round 5km north-west and its subsequent impact 3km south-west, as well as 13 undetermined explosions and ten minutes of uncountable overlapping bursts and shots of small-arms fire, all 3-8km at directions ranging from south-east to south-west.

On the evening and night of 13-14 December, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard over 100 undetermined explosions and about 210 bursts of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm) and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 4-8km at directions ranging from east to south. During the day on 14 December, while at the same location, the SMM heard almost 100 explosions (six assessed as outgoing artillery rounds and the remainder undetermined) and about 80 bursts of IFV (BMP-2) cannon and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 4-7km at directions ranging from east to south.

On the evening of 13 December, while in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard six undetermined explosions 6-10km south-west, and small-arms fire 3-5km south-west.

On the evening and night of 13-14 December, the SMM camera 1km south-west of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, five projectiles in flight from east to west, an undetermined explosion, six projectiles from east to west and a projectile from west to east, followed by a total of 11 undetermined explosions and 162 projectiles (119 from east to west and 43 from west to east), all 5-8km north. On 14 December, the same camera recorded, in sequence, 11 projectiles in flight from east to west, two undetermined explosions and two projectiles from west to east, followed by a total of 24 projectiles (14 from west to east and ten from east to west), all 5-8km north.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including 28 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (almost 1,100 explosions).

During the day on 14 December, positioned on the southern edge of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard five explosions assessed as artillery rounds 6-8km south-east.

Positioned in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions 4-6km west-north-west, five explosions assessed as outgoing rounds 2-4km west, and ten shots of small-arms fire 2km west.

While in the city centre of “LPR”-controlled Luhansk, the SMM heard three bursts of small-arms fire 1km south-east, assessed as live-fire training inside the security zone, in violation of the decision of the Trilateral Contact Group of 3 March 2016 prohibiting the conduct of live-fire training (exercises) in the security zone.

On 13 December, the SMM assessed impact sites in residential areas in “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk (30km south-west of Donetsk), government-controlled Luhanske (59km north-east of Donetsk) and Horlivka.

In Dokuchaievsk, at 8 Furmanova Street, the SMM saw two broken south-west-facing windows of a single-storey house (both of which were covered with plastic sheeting), a south-west-facing wall with shrapnel damage, and a distorted satellite dish with fresh holes in it. The SMM assessed that the damage had been caused by shrapnel from a round of an undetermined weapon (with calibre no greater than 30mm) fired from a direction between south and west. A male neighbour in his sixties told the SMM that firing had occurred between 11:00 and 12:00 on 12 December. The SMM had previously heard that a 62-year-old man had sustained shrapnel wounds on 12 December while in the yard of 8 Furmanova Street. (See SMM Daily Report 13 December 2017.)

At 4A Frunze Street, the SMM saw shrapnel damage to the south-east facing wall of a house. The Mission also observed a fresh crater in the asphalt 2m south-east of the house, and dents in the entrance gates to the yard of a house about 3m south-west of the crater (assessed as caused by the same weapon round that had caused the crater). About 15m north-north-west of the crater outside the yard, the SMM saw damage to the north-west side of a tree trunk. The SMM assessed that the damage had been caused by rounds of an undetermined weapon (with calibre 30mm) fired from a south-south-westerly direction. A male resident (in his fifties) told the SMM that he had not been home at the time of shelling but his neighbour had informed him that it had started at around 11:00 on 12 December. He added that when he came home at around 13:00, he saw the damage.

At 6A Frunze Street, the SMM saw a tree, located 3m west of a two-storey house, severed a 2.5m from the ground, assessed as caused by a projectile. The SMM was unable to determine the direction of fire. A male resident (in his sixties) of the house told the SMM that he had been at home when he had heard an explosion at 10:45 on the morning of 12 December.

At 8 Frunze Street, the SMM saw a fresh hole in the plastic panels on the south-west facing side of a two-storey house and other debris, including parts of the plastic panels, scattered in front of the house. The SMM assessed that the damage had been caused by a round of an undetermined weapon (with calibre no greater than 73mm) fired from a direction between south and west. The resident of the house at 6A Frunze Street told the SMM that the damage had occurred at 10:45 on 12 December.

In Luhanske, at 10 Khliborobiv Street, the SMM saw shrapnel damage to the south-east-facing side of a house and a destroyed wooden shed in the backyard of the house. About 20m south-west of the house, the SMM observed a fresh crater, assessed as caused by a round fired from an IFV (BMP-1) cannon or a recoilless gun (SPG-9, 73mm). A man in his forties living across the street told the SMM that his mother (in her seventies) lived in the house and that shelling had occurred at around 22:00 on 11 December.

In Horlivka, on “60 Rokiv SRSR” Street, the SMM saw broken south-west-facing windows on the sixth floor of the nine-storey apartment building no. 51, as well as shrapnel damage to its south-west-facing side. The SMM was unable to determine the direction of fire or the type of weapon used.

On 13 December, the SMM assessed damage to a power line caused by shelling in “LPR”-controlled Kalynove-Borshchuvate (61km west of Luhansk). The SMM observed that one of the high-voltage power lines had been cut and that cables were hanging down from pylons. The SMM also saw about 30 fresh craters (located 10-20m from each other) and fragments of  undetermined ammunition on an area of soft ground about 200m north-east of the pylons and about 100m east of the nearest residential house. The SMM accessed that all the craters had been caused by rounds of undetermined weapons fired from a westerly direction.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk), as foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*

In the late afternoon on 12 December, the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded three tracer rounds in flight from south-west to north-east, followed by a tracer round from north-east to south-west, all at unknown distances south (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area). In the early hours of 13 December, the same camera recorded, in sequence, six tracer rounds in flight from north-west to south-east 0.5-1km south-south-west and south-west (assessed as inside the disengagement area), a tracer round from west to east 1-2km south-west (assessed as inside the disengagement area), and five tracer rounds from north-west to south-east 500m south (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 14 December, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Pervomaisk (58km west of Luhansk), south of the Zolote disengagement area, the SMM heard two explosions assessed as impacts 5km south-west. Positioned on the western edge of Pervomaisk, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 3-5km west. Positioned 3km north of Pervomaisk, the SMM heard three explosions assessed as impacts of mortar (120mm) rounds 5km south-south-west.

The same day, the SMM observed a crane unloading concrete blocks and slabs from four or five military-type cargo trucks at “LPR” positions 20m north-west of the Prince Ihor monument south-east of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (15km north-east of Luhansk) – outside the disengagement area – assessed as fortification works.

On 14 December, positioned at the disengagements areas near government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska and Petrivske, the SMM observed calm situations.

On 14 December, the Ukrainian Armed Forces representative to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) in the JCCC headquarters in government-controlled Soledar (79km north of Donetsk) shared with the SMM a letter from the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation informing Ukraine that the Russian Federation would withdraw its Armed Forces officers from the JCCC.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.

In a government-controlled area, the SMM saw ten self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) in violation of the respective withdrawal lines near Oleksandropil (43km north of Donetsk).

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed seven towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) and four anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm), and noted that 20 self-propelled howitzers (2S1), 27 towed howitzers (19 2A65 – one of which was missing for the first time – and eight 2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) and eight anti-tank guns (MT-12) continued to be absent.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles and anti-aircraft guns[2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, the SMM saw an armoured recovery vehicle (BTS-4) towing an IFV (BMP-1) near Semyhiria (58km north-east of Donetsk) and two armoured personnel carriers (APC) (MT-LB), one mounted with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23, 23mm) atop, near Roty (66km north-east of Donetsk). On 11 December, an SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) spotted five APCs – two BTR-70 and three MT-LB, one mounted with an anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) atop – near Vodiane (19km north-east of Mariupol). On 13 December, an SMM mid-range UAV spotted a military-type vehicle (MRAP) near Popasna.

The SMM followed up on the situation of civilians living in Travneve and Hladosove. (See SMM Daily Report 7 December 2017.) On 13 December, a staff member in the village council of Novoluhanske told the SMM that residents of Travneve either did not stay there overnight or spent the night in the basement of their houses because of shelling (see ceasefire violation section). He said that a power company had brought two generators to Travneve to supply electricity to the village. He also noted that the regular bus service bringing workers to Travneve from the pig farm in Novoluhanske had resumed three days before. (See SMM Daily Report 27 November 2017.) In Novoluhanske, on 14 December, military-civil administration staff told the SMM that two generators in Travneve supplied electricity to both the village and nearby Hladosove, adding that the bus service from Novoluhanske to Travneve had resumed several days before. They also said that in Hladosove there were 15 houses inhabited, mainly by elderly people, as well as by three children and a 22-year-old man with a disability. They noted that humanitarian aid was regularly distributed to the population in Travneve and Hladosove by international organizations.

The SMM visited the Petrivske pumping station in government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk) where the head of the station told the Mission that the station had been without power since 5 December. He also said that water could not be pumped to non-government-controlled parts of Luhansk region – including the northern part of Luhansk city, Pryvitne (11km north of Luhansk), Obozne (18km north of Luhansk), Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk), Metalist (7km north-west of Luhansk) and Stukalova Balka (9km north of Luhansk) – while government-controlled Nyzhnoteple (26km north of Luhansk) and Artema were supplied with water from storage containers which were about halfway full. The SMM noted that there was no electricity or heating in the station.

The SMM facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance works, co-ordinated by the JCCC, to a power line in Avdiivka. (See SMM Daily Report 13 December 2017.) On the morning of 14 December, the Mission saw four workers from a power company repairing eight damaged sections of the power line and observed the subsequent completion of the repairs. In the early afternoon, the SMM observed lights in different parts of Avdiivka.

The SMM also continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance work, co-ordinated by the JCCC, to a power line near Travneve (see the previous page), to the water pipeline near government-controlled Zalizne (formerly Artemove, 42km north-east of Donetsk), to the water pumping station near Artema, and to the power line near Vesela Hora.

The SMM visited a border area outside of government control. At a border crossing point near Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk, 65km south-east of Luhansk), during one hour, the SMM saw 15 cars, a bus and 19 pedestrians (11 women and eight men, aged 20-55) exiting Ukraine, and 14 cars and 12 pedestrians (seven men and five women, aged 20-55) entering Ukraine.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Chernivtsi and Kyiv.

*Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and other impediments-which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations. They have also agreed that the JCCC should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government, citing orders to do so. (See, for example, SMM Daily Report 13 December 2017.) The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remained restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. “LPR” members positioned on the southern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads in the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that there was no available information about the de-mining process. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM was prevented from accessing parts of the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, with the exception of the main road, due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no de-mining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.
  • The SMM could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk) due to the presence of mines. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Other impediments:

  • In Dokuchaievsk, while the SMM was sharing OSCE outreach materials to children, a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer of the JCCC passed over his phone to one of the SMM monitoring officers to speak with a woman on the line. The woman said that she worked for the “local administration” and that the SMM was not allowed to offer any materials to local residents without permission from the “DPR” members.

 

[1]Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as a map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report. Four SMM cameras continue to be tested until the end of December 2017.

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate.”

[2] This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

South and Central Asia: Kazakhstan's Independence Day

On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, warm congratulations to the people of Kazakhstan as you celebrate 26 years of your nation’s independence.

Today, the United States and Kazakhstan are closer partners, working together to expand our economic, energy, science, and technology cooperation, and to promote regional security and stability. Our cooperation on global issues has deepened during Kazakhstan’s term as a member of the United Nations Security Council. We congratulate Kazakhstan on the success of Astana Expo 2017, which showcased Kazakhstan’s commitment to energy resource development across the globe.

We look forward to strengthening our partnership over the coming years and we send the people of Kazakhstan our best wishes as you celebrate this special day.

South and Central Asia: Kazakhstan's Independence Day

On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, warm congratulations to the people of Kazakhstan as you celebrate 26 years of your nation’s independence.

Today, the United States and Kazakhstan are closer partners, working together to expand our economic, energy, science, and technology cooperation, and to promote regional security and stability. Our cooperation on global issues has deepened during Kazakhstan’s term as a member of the United Nations Security Council. We congratulate Kazakhstan on the success of Astana Expo 2017, which showcased Kazakhstan’s commitment to energy resource development across the globe.

We look forward to strengthening our partnership over the coming years and we send the people of Kazakhstan our best wishes as you celebrate this special day.