By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
In an interview with UN News, UNDP’s Ukraine representative, Neil Walker, spoke about the current situation in Ukraine. He addressed continued targeting of Ukraine’s water supply, the ongoing violation of the cease fire, and the reality of land mines.
Water supplies targeted
Mr Walker explained that Ukraine’s water supply infrastructure continues to be targeted in the eastern part of the country. In one case he told of injuries to workers who were trying to repair damage done to a pumping station. Work cannot continue unless the safety of the workers can be assured. Until then, the water supply remains shut off. This reality sadly demonstrates that civilians and civilian structures are being targeted in this conflict.
Mr Walker also expressed his opinion that this conflict is largely forgotten. “It’s incredible how many people are shocked to learn that over the course of last year there were 40,000 violations of the cease fire on average every single month throughout the year,” he said. Cease fire violations decreased in the beginning of 2018, but according to Mr Walker they are on the rise in April.
“Currently Ukraine has the highest casualty rates associated with anti-vehicle mines,” Mr Walker reported, ranking it the third or fourth most mined country. “It’s a huge problem,” according to Mr Walker. A contact line measuring about 460km which is heavily mined makes traveling in that area particularly dangerous. The UNDP is addressing the situation but is hampered in its efforts due to the ongoing conflict.