At least 7,962 people have been killed and 17,811 wounded in the fighting that erupted in April 2014, the United Nations human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said in a statement issued with the latest report by his agency’s monitors in Ukraine.
They said more than 400 civilians had been killed or wounded in artillery exchanges in the three most recent months covered by the report, more than double the number in the preceding three months, and cited daily violations of the cease-fire accord negotiated in February in Minsk, Belarus, between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian groups controlling large portions of eastern Ukraine.
“The major impediments” to peace are the presence of foreign fighters, the flow of sophisticated and heavy weaponry from Russia, and Ukraine’s lack of control over its eastern border with Russia, the report said.
The report, covering the months up to Aug. 15, was issued as the Ukrainian and Russian authorities described a downturn in fighting since a new truce began at the start of September.
A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told reporters in Moscow that there was “practically no shelling” of civilian areas in the east by Ukrainian forces, while the Ukrainian defense minister, Col. Gen. Stepan Poltorak, said attacks on Ukrainian forces were down to two to four daily, the lowest level in a year and a half, the news media reported.
However, Peskov added that there had been no progress on other aspects of the Minsk accord, which also calls for greater autonomy for eastern Ukraine and amnesty for fighters.
United Nations monitors reported allegations of summary killings by pro-Russian armed groups and of torture, abductions and sexual violence by both sides in the conflict.
The United Nations said the Ukrainian authorities were introducing legislation to comply with the Minsk accord, while armed groups controlling areas around Donetsk and Luhansk were setting up law enforcement, judicial and legislative bodies and issuing their own passports that did not conform to either international law or Ukrainian legislation.
“Implementation of the Minsk agreement is key, and right now what we see is one side trying to do that and others moving away from it,” Gianni Magazzeni, a senior United Nations human rights official, told reporters in Geneva.
Source: The New York Times