Daily Archives: August 22, 2015

Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on ...

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by the parties and security considerations*. The SMM observed a decrease in ceasefire violations at and around Donetsk airport and a calm situation in the area east of Mariupol. The SMM did not record any ceasefire violations in the Luhansk region. The SMM observed damage caused by shelling and conducted crater analysis in several locations.

The number of ceasefire violations observed at and around the destroyed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled airport (9km north-west of Donetsk) decreased in comparison with the previous day. From its position at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point, at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard a total of 35 explosions and bursts of small-arms and light-weapons (SALW) fire in the morning, occurring at distances ranging between 2-7km north-east, north, north-west and south-west of its position. From the same position, between 14:15 and 17:45hrs, the SMM observed 44 explosions and numerous bursts and shots of small-arms fire 3-8km north, north-west, west and south-west of its position[1].

On 20 August the SMM visited “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (38km north-east of Donetsk), where it was informed by residents about shelling in their neighbourhood on 16 August. The SMM saw that the exterior wall facing a south-westerly direction of one residential house was heavily damaged by shrapnel. The SMM observed that the western facade of another house was shattered with shrapnel. Inside, the SMM observed that one room was covered with shrapnel and glass from broken windows, but no crater was found. The SMM saw traces of blood on the bed. The neighbour told the SMM that a 74-year-old woman had been severely injured. The SMM also observed damage on the exterior wall facing a westerly direction of another house and assessed that it was caused by fire from a westerly direction.

The “deputy mayor” of Horlivka told the SMM that the infrastructure of the city was heavily damaged due to the recent shelling, including the gas pipelines. He further said that the “DPR” side was ready to repair the gas pipelines damaged in shelling and that they were unable to provide security guarantees without the SMM’s assistance. He emphasized that the SMM’s efforts regarding repair works of a water pipeline between Horlivka and government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk) were seen positively by the residents (see SMM Daily, 15 August).

The SMM went to government-controlled Starohnativka (51km south of Donetsk) and observed that the situation in the area was rather calm. While there, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions approximately 5km north of its position and one burst of small-arms fire 2km north-east of its position.

In government-controlled Prohorivka (55km south-west of Donetsk), following up on information received separately from the head of the village council and residents of Starohnativka about one male civilian killed in overnight shelling, the SMM observed one crater and a piece of shrapnel near the farm compound where according to residents the victim had been hit. The SMM assessed that a 152mm shell – fired from a north-easterly direction – had caused it.

In government-controlled Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM observed six fresh craters and assessed that five of them were caused by 82mm mortar shells fired from a south-easterly direction, while the sixth was caused by a calibre above 120mm originated from the same direction. The SMM saw shattered windows and damage to fences and gas pipelines of nearby houses. The head of the village told the SMM about shelling that had occurred at 04:00hrs the same morning. He added that there were no casualties but the electricity line and gas pipeline were damaged.

At the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Volnovakha (55km north of Mariupol), the SMM observed 425 civilian vehicles waiting to enter “DPR” –controlled area. Fifty-six civilian vehicles were queuing in the opposite direction. The SMM spoke to several passengers of mixed gender and age on both sides of the queue who said that they had been waiting in line for around six hours to cross into “DPR”-controlled area, whereas those travelling to government-controlled areas had been waiting around two and a half hours.

In Sloviansk (government-controlled, 95km north of Donetsk), the head of the district educational department informed that the schools in the district were ready to receive all children of internally displaced persons (IDPs) for the school start. Approximately 75 children are on a waiting list for kindergarten as some of the premises are still not operational due to last year’s shelling and the fact that other kindergartens do not have the capacity to accommodate bigger numbers of children.

Near Lugansk People’s Republic”(“LPR”)-controlled Pryshyb (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed fresh damages to treetops and ten fresh craters, all within a radius of 50 metres, south of the “LPR”-controlled checkpoint. The SMM assessed that all ten craters were likely caused by 82mm mortar rounds. The “LPR” member at the checkpoint told the SMM that a “LPR” member sustained light injuries during the shelling that had occurred in the night of 20 August.

Near government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (18km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed a fresh crater 200 metres east of the “LPR” checkpoint at the bridge. The SMM conducted analysis of a crater, assessing that a 120mm mortar round had caused it. A “LPR” member at the checkpoint told the SMM that the crater was the result of shelling that had occurred in the night of 20 August.

The SMM revisited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. One “DPR” heavy weapons holding area was abandoned, and six towed howitzer guns (D30, 122mm) and one anti-tank towed wheel artillery (MT-12, 120mm, Rapira) were absent. From outside, the SMM observed only one MT-12 inside the area, previously registered as non-functional. At the second heavy weapons holding area, the present “DPR” members denied the SMM access to the holding area* and told the SMM that five out of six previously recorded multiple launched rocket system (MLRS) 122mm (BM-21) had been taken away for training and that only one non-functional BM-21 was present.

The SMM observed the following heavy weapons in areas that are in violation of respective withdrawal lines. In “DPR”-controlled area, the SMM observed six main battle tanks (MBT) (T-72), and four MLRS (122mm BM-21 Grad). The SMM – through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – spotted in “DPR”-controlled areas three MBTs west of Starolaspa (59km north-east of Mariupol) and two MBTs and ten APCs in Bezimenne (30km east of Mariupol). While flying over Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) and government-controlled Volodarske (21km north-west of Mariupol) the SMM UAV was jammed.

In Kharkiv, the SMM met the acting head of the regional enlistment centre who informed that 1,800 persons were drafted during the sixth wave of mobilization. He further informed that this number represented 60 per cent of 3,000 planned draftees, a 10 per cent increase in comparison with the previous wave of mobilization.

In front of the headquarter of “Naftogaz of Ukraine” in the Kyiv city centre, the SMM monitored a peaceful protest of approximately 500 workers, mainly middle-aged men, who came from Kremenchuk (290km south-east of Kyiv) in order to voice their concerns about decreasing salaries and job cuts. The event was covered by a number of journalists and overseen by 80 riot police officers guarding the building. The protest ended peacefully.

The SMM observed approximately 15 people – mostly elderly men – outside the Presidential Administration building in Kyiv. During the half-hour peaceful protest – overseen by 15 police officers – participants expressed their opposition to the Minsk Agreements.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv.

*Restrictions on SMM monitoring, access and freedom of movement:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by the parties and security considerations, including mine threats, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government. Members of the “LPR” continue to prevent the SMM from monitoring most areas close to the border with the Russian Federation.

Delayed access:

  • At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint in government-controlled Katerynivka (62km west of Luhansk), the checkpoint personnel opened and inspected the trunks of the two SMM vehicles.
  • In the outskirts of Donetsk city, the SMM was stopped by “DPR” “police” and informed that due to the recent shelling in the area, the patrol needs to wait for clearance. After approximately 15 minutes the SMM was allowed to proceed. 

Denied access:

 “DPR” members at one “DPR” heavy weapons holding area denied the SMM access.

 

[1] For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations observed, please see the annexed table.

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.

Fadlullah: Self deluded are those seeking t…

NNA – Self-deluded are those seeking to ostracize the Aounist Trend from the decision-making process, Hizbullah deputy of the House Hassan Fadlullah stated during his marking of the 9th anniversary of Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon in Habboush-South Lebanon today.

Sounding the alarm of a deepening electricity, water and general corruption crisis, Fadlullah blamed it all on what he termed as “a corrosive compromising of partnership and exclusive clinging onto power decision-making.” Also, hinting that the self-deluded may be causing unforetold suffering for ordinary people and, at all levels, Fadlullah urged Future protagonists to talk to Aoun in his capacity as a major interlocutor in the country. Hariri and company are largely responsible for the present stalemate and trash crisis, he said.

Our party has been able thus far to secure Lebanon against ISIL/NUSRA onslaught, and now, both army and police must follow suit and do likewise internally, the deputy concluded.

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Weather forecast: Partly cloudy with no cha…

NNA – The meteorology department at Rafik Hariri International Airport forecasted Sunday’s weather to be partly cloudy with stable temperatures.

Coastal temperatures: 22 to 33 degrees Celsius.

Mountain-range temperatures: 14 to 26 degrees Celsius.

Arz temperatures: 14 to 26 degrees Celsius.

Inland temperatures: 14 to 35 degrees Celsius.

Surface winds: South-westerly with speeds between 10 and 20 km/hr.

Visibility: Average.

Coastal humidity: 50% to 80%.

Sea: Moderate waves. Surface water temperature at 29 degrees Celsius.

Sunrise: 06:04 a.m.

Sunset: 07:18 p.m.

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IGAD – BRAVE Hosts Partners' Breakfast Dialogue on Counter ...

SONY DSC

Nairobi, Kenya, 21st August 2015: This morning the Office of the IGAD Executive Secretary hosted a breakfast meeting for development partners on counter violent extremism (CVE) in Nairobi.

The meeting that was organized in collaboration with the BRAVE (Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism) initiative brought together representatives from embassies, high commissions and diplomatic missions, as well as officials from relevant government institutions including the ministries of foreign affairs, interior and coordination of national development.

The Director of CEWARN, Richard Barno conveyed the apologies of the IGAD Executive Secretary, who could not attend the meeting due to another pressing assignment in Kigali, Rwanda. Delivering a statement on behalf of the ES, Barno thanked the participants for honoring the invitation and commended the BRAVE initiative for ‘doing things differently’ in the fight against violent extremism in Kenya.

He pledged the continued the support of IGAD and called on the development partners to cooperate and support such initiatives and efforts in IGAD member states.

Dr Mustafa Ali, the BRAVE Convenor outlined the operational framework that the initiative has deployed to address the challenges of CVE in the country. He expressed his gratitude to IGAD through the Executive Secretary for co-hosting the meeting and appealed to other stakeholders including government agencies and development partners ‘to join the movement’.

Complementing the BRAVE powerpoint presentation, Dr Simon Nyambura, ISSP Head of Counter Terrorism stated that IGAD will continue to sensitize stakeholders in the region on the need to institutionalize CVE in the Horn of Africa and Eastern Africa Region including the establishment of a centre of excellence.

He informed the distinguished participants that the IGAD Secretariat and the State Department of the US Government will convene another meeting next week in Djibouti to follow up on this matter.

Other speakers included Joseph Irungu, the Interior Secretary and Hon. Abdullahi Wako, a member of the BRAVE Steering Committee, who moved the vote of thanks.

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