Ukraine report says people are "at mercy" of armed groups

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Aleksandr, who has cerebral palsy, with his 19 month old son Ivan in their room at the summer-camp-turned-centre for displaced Ukrainians near Kupiansk. UNHCR/E.Ziyatdinova

The conflict in Ukraine has left people struggling to survive and at the mercy of armed groups, the UN’s human rights watchdog said on Monday.

The strongly worded report – which covers November – comes as a fragile ceasefire holds between government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Some 1,357 people have died since the agreement on the 5th of September, according to the UN human rights office.

The situation has become “extremely dire” for civilians especially with winter fast approaching, it says.

And it’s particularly bad for older people, children and those in care.

Here’s human rights representative Gianni Magazzeni:

“Continuing killings, abduction, torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence, rape, forced labour, ransom, extortion that is going on in the areas of the east that are under the control of armed groups, those are referred to generally in the report as a total breakdown in law and order, there is no procedural guarantees or real protection for the individuals that are kept there or who are still there and are basically at the mercy of these armed groups.”

The conflict has left at least 4,700 people dead and more than 10,300 wounded, Mr Magazzeni said at a press conference in Geneva.

More than 550,000 people have been displaced too while another half a million have left Ukraine altogether, he added.

While unable to provide numbers Mr Magazzeni said that many civilians were effectively held hostage in regions controlled by fighters.

He explained how a rape trial had taken place in a public square in Luhansk where onlookers were asked to vote on the use of capital punishment.

Foreign fighters have also been offered citizenship, he said, adding that this so-called “normalization” process was at odds with international law and the Minsk ceasefire protocols, which must be respected for a de-escalation of the conflict.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1'46″

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