Ukraine and Russia respond to abuse allegations

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Photo: Jean-Marc Ferré

Concerns over human rights abuses in Ukraine have been in the spotlight at the UN Human Rights Council.

Addressing Member States on Monday, UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein highlighted violations against civilians, particularly those living near the "contact line" between government and opposition forces in the east.

Responding to allegations of abuse, Ukraine blamed Russian aggression, while the Russian Federation expressed alarm at what it called an "atmosphere of criminality and impunity" prevailing in the country.

Daniel Johnson has more.

In its latest report on the crisis in Ukraine, the UN Human Rights Office states that the violence there has killed at least 9,700 people – more than 2,000 of them civilians – since mid-April 2014.

The turmoil started there when thousands of people staged protests in Kiev to press for integration with the European Union in 2013.

At the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Al Hussein noted allegations of ongoing abuse involving both sides in the conflict.

The UN Rights chief highlighted the plight of one woman in the opposition-held eastern region of Donetsk.

"One internally displaced woman in Donetsk told my colleagues, and I quote, 'No-one listens to us; to get any help we need to go through every circle of hell,' end quote."

At the Human Rights Council, Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Sergiy Kyslytsya accused the Russian Federation of continuing to supply arms to separatist fighters.

He also said that "murder, torture, harassment and enforced disappearance" were continuing in Crimea following its annexation by Russia in 2014.

In reply, Russia reasserted its territorial claim to the Republic of Crimea and said that it had improved the situation of those who lived there.

The Russian delegation also said it was "shocked" at allegations in the UN report of sexual violence, torture and illicit detention carried out by the Ukrainian security services.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’26″



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