Donetsk, Mar 30 — DAN. Residents of Avdeyevka which is occupied by Ukrainian gunmen have begun to evacuate on their own to the territory controlled by Donetsk People’s Republic authorities, Yasinovataya town mayor Dmitry Shevchenko said.

“In Avdeyevka, the situation remains complicated, ” Shevchenko told the Donetsk News Agency. “Ukrainian gunmen are trying to drive people out of the town by force. Earlier, people could come back, but now they are not allowed to reenter, so people from Avdeyevka are beginning to arrive in Yasinovataya. Many have relatives here. Thus, refugees have begun to move out of Avdeyevka; at least one person arrives in our town nearly every day.”

Refugees from Avdeyevka can enter Russia only via Ukraine and European countries. “For example, a man who has arrived today travelled across the whole Ukraine, Poland and Baltic states. Then he entered Russia and came to us. It took him five days to get here. Our towns are located at a distance of several kilometers, and he had to travel for five days because of this situation; it’s terrible, ” he said.

The Avdeyevka refugees are staying at temporary accommodation centers. They are provided with food and personal hygiene products and, if need, be, with clothes. “We’ll help them get the necessary documents; we have a mechanism for it. Nobody will be left unattended; we’ll help everyone, ” the mayor said.

Adveyevka is situated about 1.5 kilometers west of Yasinovataya. The pre-war Avdeyevka was part of the Yasinovataya district. It accommodates a coking plant, one of the largest in Europe. Before 2014, it produced some 30 kinds of chemical products. Over the years of the conflict, Kiev forces turned the town into a key fortified area in Donbass. They shelled Donetsk, Yasinovataya and Makeyevka from this axis for more than eight years. There are some 3,000 civilians remaining in the town at present.*jk