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Fears over displaced Ukrainians grow as army approaches rebel stronghold

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Fears over displaced Ukrainians grow as army approaches rebel stronghold

Fears over displaced Ukrainians grow as army approaches rebel stronghold
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The battle for the heartland of Ukraine’s separatist movement is intensifying around Donetsk.

Government troops appear to be edging closer to the largest city controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Kyiv is 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.

The fighting is stoking concern of a worsening humanitarian problem. The UN has spoken of its concerns 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.