Civilian death toll in eastern Ukraine significantly high

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A resident of the Artema suburb of Sloviansk, Ukraine, in the rubble of what used to be her summer kitchen, in July 2014. Photo: UNHCR/Iva Zimova

The number of civilians killed each day in eastern Ukraine has more than tripled in the past one month, as both government and armed groups intensify the use of heavy weaponry in densely populated areas, according to a report by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR).

The report says an average of 36 people are being killed each day up from an average of about 11 a month ago.

Between April and August this year, nearly 2,600 civilians have been killed in eastern Ukraine.

The report says armed groups were targeting civilians using safe corridors established by Ukrainian armed forces to escape from the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, says there is an urgent need to end the fighting and violence in eastern Ukraine before more civilians are harmed, forced to flee or face intolerable hardships trapped inside the conflict zones.

Gianni Magazzeni, is the head of the Americas, Europe and Central Asia Branch at the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva.

“There is effectively a reign of fear and terror within the pocket areas controlled by the armed groups.  With the appalling situation where civilians wanting to flee those areas and to move away from areas of conflict are actually prevented from doing so and in some cases there have been reported instances of civilians killed while they were using so-called safe corridors. There has to be certainly an end to impunity and a degree of accountability for all violations, no matter who might have committed those violations, and there is a need to do more to protect civilians especially, because of the increased operations and fighting going on in certain parts of the east."

The report says the government has arrested more than 1,000 people in eastern Ukraine including local officials, police officers and civilians accusing them of participating in terrorist activities

Armed groups are reported to be detaining at least 468 people in region.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

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