As tensions rise in Eastern Ukraine, Pro-Russian insurgents continue to target Christians, reportedly taking over a Christian University in Donetsk to house insurgents in preparation for war.
"They want to accommodate more soldiers, so that place becomes the number one target for the insurgency," Sergey Rakhuba, president of Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries and a former board member of the university told Mission Network News. "If the Ukrainian army attacks, this Christian university would be destroyed."
Following a government crackdown on rebel forces, Insurgents were forced to regroup in the city of Donetsk, the regional capital, where they captured Donetsk Christian University and Gloria Christian School along with the airport and several other government buildings. As the pro-Russian armies move freely around the city, conditions are quickly worsening.
"This place could be turned into hell," said Rakhuba, expressing fear for the safety of Christians within the city. "People are panicking."
Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed independent Donetsk People's Republic, said the rebels have an estimated 15,000 fighters and will make every effort to defend Donetsk.
"We are creating one DPR fist that is ready to fight and repel the Ukrainian army," Purgin told The Associated Press, noting that his forces control most of the city.
"We will soon take all assets of interest," he continued.
Other cities in Eastern Ukraine are also facing a crisis at the hands of insurgents: Kramatorsk and Slavyansk have experienced the loss of electricity and water.
"The scope of the trauma and tragedy in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk is beyond comprehension," reports Rakhuba in a press release. "For the last several weeks, local residents have had no electricity and little food and fresh water."
Rebels since continued into the Donetsk region, retreating from Kramatorsk and Slavyansk as Ukrainian troops regained control.
"After Slovyansk we are gathering strength and resting. In Donetsk, we feel at home, and a home must be defended and protected," said one 27-year-old rebel fighter, who gave his name only as Dmitry.
As many families flee the country, the Ukrainian government says it will reclaim the city. However, many fear a battle will soon happen. Since pro-Russian militants seized control of the city, at least 423 people have died, and approximately 30,000 people have fled. The separatist conflict in Donetsk has become one of the worst in the former Soviet Union since 1991, the Telegraph reports.
"There is so much unrest in the area, it is like a ticking time bomb-we fear it will soon explode," says Marcus Voich, a missionary in Donetsk.
"We pray that fighting will soon cease and peace will once again reign."