Fighting in eastern Ukraine has claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 people since the signing of a fragile ceasefire agreement in September, the United Nations said on Thursday.
On average, 13 people were killed each day during the first eight weeks of the September 5 ceasefire, with a total of 957 deaths recorded up to November 18, according to a new UN human rights monitoring report.
The number of people registered as displaced within Ukraine also soared from 275,489 in mid-September to 466,829 as of November 19.
"The list of victims keeps growing. Civilians, including women, children, minorities and a range of vulnerable individuals and groups continue to suffer the consequences of the political stalemate in Ukraine," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement.
Counting the 298 people who died in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in July, at least 4,317 people have died and 9,921 have been wounded overall in the conflict in eastern Ukraine between mid-April and November 18.
Nearly 1,200 of those killed were Ukrainian troops, while more than 1,700 civilians and members of armed groups were killed in Donetsk, including 22 children. Meanwhile, more than 850 civilians and rebels were killed in Lugansk, including 14 children.
This is "a conservative estimate", the report added, specifying that "the actual number of fatalities may be much higher."
In what is their seventh report, the 35-strong UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine described "the total breakdown of law and order."
They warned that an influx of sophisticated weapons and foreign fighters, including Russian troops, was having a devastating impact on the human rights situation in the country.
Between September 24 and October 31, observers with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) spotted 2,751 people in military-style clothing crossing two borders with Russia in both directions, the report said.
The UN rights monitors, meanwhile, detailed numerous serious human rights abuses by armed groups, including torture, arbitrary and secret detention, summary executions, forced labour and widespread sexual violence.
One Ukrainian soldier said his right arm, bearing a "Glory to Ukraine" tattoo, was chopped off with an axe by pro-Russia separatists, while another said rebels in Donetsk had "started cutting off his ear".
In territories under the control of the self-proclaimed separatist people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, the "violations are of a systematic nature and may amount to crimes against humanity," the report warned.
Ukrainian troops are also responsible for committing numerous violations, the report said.
One Donetsk rebel detained by Ukrainian forces said he had been nearly suffocated with a plastic bag and repeatedly beaten.
The report also called for an immediate investigation into allegations of the use of cluster munitions in both urban and rural areas – a violation of international humanitarian law and possibly a "war crime".
“Respect for the ceasefire has been sporadic at best, with continued outbreaks of fighting and shelling,” the report said.
"Accountability and an end to impunity are at the core of ensuring peace, reconciliation and long-term recovery," it added.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-11-20