Warring parties in eastern Ukraine have repeatedly failed to implement ceasefire agreements, allowing hostilities to escalate and the cumulative death toll to exceed 10,000 as the conflict entered its fourth year, a new United Nations report reveals.
The report, published today, covers the three months through 15 May 2017, during which the UN human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine recorded 36 conflict-related civilian deaths and 157 injuries, a 48 per cent increase from the previous three-month period, according to a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The report finds that there were daily ceasefire violations and routine use of small arms and light and heavy weapons in the conflict zone. Such attacks and the resulting damage to critical infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and water facilities, raise serious concerns for the protection of civilians, the report notes, warning that, as summer approaches, there is a risk of further escalation in hostilities, as in previous years.
From the start of the conflict in mid-April 2014 up to 15 May 2017, at least 10,090 people, including 2,777 civilians, have been killed, and at least 23,966 injured, according to a conservative estimate.
More than 1.6 million people fled their homes and became internally displaced, while some three million remained in territory controlled by armed groups, the report notes.
Among the issues highlighted in the report:
- The socio-economic deprivation in the east of the country has been deepening. A cumbersome verification procedure introduced in 2016 deprived more than 400,000 citizens of Ukraine of their pensions. The report recommends abolishing the requirement that pensioners from armed-group controlled territory should register as internally displaced persons to receive their pension;
- The contact line continues to divide families and communities, infringing daily the right to freedom of movement. Long queues at the checkpoints reached a record peak in March and April, with over 900,000 crossings each month, compared with 550,000 in February;
- The report contains new cases of individuals unlawfully or arbitrarily deprived of their liberty or subjected to enforced disappearances and abductions, particularly in the territory controlled by armed groups. In a number of cases, the victims' families did not have access to those detained and had no information on their whereabouts; and,
- The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine observed systemic violations of the right to a fair trial on conflict-related charges.