Latest from the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine based on information received until 18:00 hrs, 20 July (Kyiv time)
This update is provided for media and general public.
The SMM was initially given only partial access to the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash site. It was given full access on 20 July. Luhansk city was shelled.
In Kharkiv, the deputy governor informed the SMM on 20 July that a crisis management response centre would be set up, under his direction, in response to the Malaysia Airlines crash. He said 300 hotel rooms had already been pre-booked in Kharkiv city and other preparations to identify bodies and sift through wreckage were ongoing. Thirty-four psychologists and 25 medics had been recruited, he said. Three small rallies were held in the city over the weekend to honour the victims of the crash.
There was shelling of Luhansk city on 18 and 19 July. On 19 July, the SMM went to a city-centre location, where they observed a large crater beside a bus stop. Shattered windows and shrapnel fragments in the walls of two nearby six-storey buildings were seen, and blood and body parts along the pavement and road. The same day, the SMM observed five houses reduced to rubble on the outskirts of the city. The SMM observed the remains of a rocket of an indeterminable type at the scene.
The SMM received casualty figures from two sources. The head of the local emergency services department in Luhansk city informed the SMM on 19 July that 20 people had been killed and 150 injured in Luhansk city on 17 and 18 July. The head of the city morgue informed the SMM on 19 July that 29 people had been killed on 18 and 19 July. He said five of the victims were women, and all but one were civilians. At the morgue, the SMM saw a man and a woman carrying a small, child-sized, coffin.
The head of the Ukrainian government’s security operation in Luhansk province on 20 July denied Ukrainian military involvement in the shelling of Luhansk city.
On 20 July, in Starobelsk in northern Luhansk province, a woman, who had left Luhansk city the previous day, informed the SMM that there were long lines of cars waiting to pass through Ukrainian army checkpoints north of the city. She said many men in the city were afraid to leave for fear of being accused by the Ukrainian soldiers of being separatists, or of being stopped by the separatists and forced to fight for them.
In the Donetsk region, the SMM visited the impact site of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 near the village of Rassupnoe for the second and third time on 19 and 20 July, respectively. On 19 July, access to the site was limited, but greater than it had been on the SMM’s first visit the previous day. Rescue workers at the scene told the SMM that they had photographed and video filmed bodies before placing them in body bags. The SMM observed 55 body bags. The security perimeter, on the SMM’s arrival, was weak. On 20 July, the SMM observed an indeterminate number of bodies held in cold storage in train carriages at Torez railway station, close to the crash site. This day the SMM was given full access to the main crash site, which was on this occasion properly cordoned off. The recovery of bodies continued.
The situation in Dnepropetrovsk and Kherson regions remained calm.
In Odessa province, the SMM observed on 20 July approximately 200 people demonstrating in Kulykove Pole, angered apparently by the removal of a memorial in the early hours of 19 July. The memorial commemorates the 2 May tragedy in Odesa city that claimed the lives of 48 people. Though there no incidents were reported, there was a heavy police presence.
In the Chernivtsi region, the SMM met on 19 July the recently-appointed police chief of Hyboka district, who said that seven of the 70 police officers in the district had volunteered for duty in the east. The SMM has been informed that police ranks in Sloviansk in the Donetsk region are being filled by officers from all across Ukraine.
In the Ivano-Frankivsk region, the head of the Social Support Centre in Kalush (35 km northwest of Ivano-Frankivsk) informed the SMM on 17 July that the centre was co-ordinating assistance to internally-displaced persons (IDPs) at a municipal level. He said there were currently 41 IDPs in the town, and one family had left the town this week and had returned to Sloviansk in the Donetsk region. The SMM has noted that a number of other IDPs have returned to Sloviansk since the city was re-taken by Ukrainian military forces.
The situation in Lviv remained calm.
In Kyiv, the head of the Department of Special Purpose Police Forces within the Ministry of Interior informed the SMM on 17 July that equipping his forces was problematic.