Human rights situation in eastern Ukraine worsened over the summer, U.N. says

UNITED NATIONS, A United Nations report released Thursday said eastern Ukraine’s human rights situation worsened during the summer.


The report of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights documented 28 civilian deaths and 160 civilian injuries in eastern Ukraine between mid-May and mid-September, a 66 percent increase in casualties compared to the previous three-month period.

From the beginning of the conflict in mid-April 2014 until Sept. 15, 2016, the HCHR has recorded 9,640 casualties and 22,431 injuries among members of Ukraine’s armed forces, civilians and members of armed groups.

“While the situation has improved since the ceasefire was restored on September 1, the situation along the contact line remains deeply unstable… there is a real risk that a new outbreak of violence could happen at any time,” said Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

The report states that civilians living in the area of the conflict have been deprived of protection, access to services and humanitarian aid, and that their freedom of movement is severely compromised. About 70 percent of the alleged human rights abuses and violations documented in the time period involved allegations of torture, ill treatment and detention without access to aid.

Tensions have risen because of the close proximity of Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian armed insurgents to their dividing line, known as the contact line, according to the report, adding that civilians have been killed and injured by indiscriminate shelling, as well as by mines and booby traps.

The report was released Thursday, as the European Union extended, for six months, an assets freeze and travel ban on 150 Russian officials and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Those sanctions, which began in 2014, are against individuals accused of undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
By Ed Adamczyk