Situation in Ukraine remains "volatile," warns senior UN human rights official
Unless urgent action is taken in Ukraine to separate sides and remove heavy weaponry, widespread hostilities in the country could re-escalate, a senior United Nations human rights official warned June 29.
Addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday, Ivan Simonovic, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, appealed to the leaders of the warring sides to respect a ceasefire agreement.
The conflict has claimed the lives of nearly 9,500 people since fighting erupted two years ago – more than one in four civilians – and left nearly 22,000 people injured.
Read alsoOSCE SMM caught in mortar shelling in Gov't-controlled VodianeWhile the rate of casualties has slowed substantially since a ceasefire in September 2015 and the signing of the Minsk Peace Accords – an agreement signed under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to halt fighting in the Donbass region of Ukraine – some 10 people are killed each month.
These dire figures are part of the latest report from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) covering the period between 16 February and 15 May 2016.
It notes that since 15 May, half of all civilian casualties were caused by shelling from mortars and howitzers – weapons which use in the conflict zone are prohibited by the Minsk Agreements.
Read alsoPGO calls on int'l organizations to pay attention to conditions of detention of Ukrainian POWsIn addition, accounts of torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary and incommunicado detention by the armed groups have continued to surface in the conflict zone, where 2.7 million people live.
Those responsible “will be held to account sooner or later,” Mr. Simonovic said, before adding that war crimes, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of human rights cannot be the subject of any amnesty.