Despite current lull, Ukraine fighting "could scale up again"

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The situation in eastern Ukraine remains volatile and continues to have a severe impact on human rights. Photo: UNHCR

The increased presence of heavy weapons in eastern Ukraine is an indication that fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels could soon flare up again.

That's the assessment of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, Neal Walker, who briefed journalists in Geneva on Tuesday.

Nearly four million people have been affected by the conflict, which began in April 2014.

Dianne Penn reports.

Mr Walker described the current situation in eastern Ukraine as "quite serious."

He reported that the intensity of fighting had increased between 21 January and 3 February, with more than 4,000 ceasefire violations taking place.

That's more than the level normally recorded during an entire month, he said, adding that the frontline between the two warring sides has also narrowed.

"You also have an increased presence of heavy weapons directly in violation of the Minsk accords. So in this situation it's of course very tense, and it's very easy to imagine the fighting could scale up again even if now we have a slight return to a lull. We think that this is good, but we're not confident that it will hold."

Mr Walker is in Geneva to present a confidential report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

It covers three areas of concern in Ukraine including the rise in gender-based violence as a result of the conflict.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’09″

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