United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the shelling which resulted in the deaths of at least 11 civilian bus passengers amid ongoing fighting in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk.
According to a statement released by Mr. Ban's spokesperson at UN Headquarters in New York today, the Secretary-General remains “deeply disturbed” by the renewed escalation in hostilities in Ukraine and deplores the incident which, he said, was a “stark reminder of the urgent need to halt the violence.”
In addition, the spokesperson underscored Mr. Ban's appeal for the incident to be investigated and those responsible to be brought to justice.
Media reports state that 11 Ukrainian civilians were killed and at least 17 others injured on 13 January when shelling targeting a nearby Government-held roadblock went astray and hit the passenger bus on which they were traveling.
“The Secretary-General exhorts all sides to respect the cease-fire and return to the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which remain a solid base for resolving this conflict,” continued the statement, referring to the fragile peace plan signed in the Belarussian capital on 5 September.
Mr. Ban “notes the ongoing diplomatic efforts of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany towards this end and encourages all concerned to continue to seek means of restoring peace and ensuring the stability, territorial integrity and unity of Ukraine,” the statement added.
The latest figures from the UN human rights office, OHCHR, and the UN's World Health Organization (WHO), paint a stark picture of the reality on the ground for millions of people living in the regions directly affected by the conflict, such as Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk, where hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) remain trapped.
In late February 2014, the situation in Ukraine transcended what was initially seen as an internal Ukrainian political crisis into violent clashes in parts of the country, later reaching full- scale conflict in the east. Despite the Minsk cease-fire, the situation in Ukraine has since continuously deteriorated, with serious consequences for the country's unity, territorial integrity and stability.
From mid-April to 12 December, at least 4,707 people were killed and 10,322 wounded by fighting. Since the tenuous ceasefire began, at least 1,357 fatalities were recorded. Moreover, the UN has recently reported that since March 2014, more than one million people have been displaced from the conflict-affected areas, including nearly 530,000 people within Ukraine, of who at least 130,000 are children.
Echoing Mr. Ban's condemnation of the incident, the UN Security Council also deplored the shelling in the “strongest terms” in a statement in which Council Members expressed their “deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims” while calling for “an objective investigation” to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Moreover, the Council underlined the need for all parties to the conflict to strictly observe the Minsk protocol and its implementing memorandum in order to wind down hostilities and move towards peace.