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    Fears over Ukrainian displaced grow as army approaches rebel stronghold

    euronews (in English)

    by euronews (in English)

    Around Donetsk the battle for the heartland of Ukraine’s separatist movement is intensifying. Government troops appear to be edging closer to the largest city controlled by pro Russian rebels. With Kyiv also tightening its grip around Luhansk.

    The stakes are high, as are the potential costs. Fearing the worst some take refuge in local bomb shelters for the night.

    But the fighting is also stoking concern of a worsening humanitarian problem, the UN has spoken of the disastrous that could be seen if the fighting engulfs key urban centres. Vincent Cochetel from the UNHCR, said in a press conference:

    “What we are scared about is the way the military operations are conducted. What will happen if we have intense fighting inside the big urban centres of Luhansk and Donetsk? Fighting in highly intensified urban areas could lead to massive exodus and massive destruction.”

    The UN has reported a major spike over the past month in the number of displaced in Ukraine’s east.

    Rebel commanders have now declared Donetsk in a ‘state of siege’ but for the time being life in the actual city centre does go on with a degree of normality.