Almost 1 000 killed in Ukraine since September

2014-11-20 22:25

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Geneva - Nearly 1 000 people have been killed in conflict-torn Ukraine since a tattered truce was signed in September while the number of people displaced has nearly doubled, the United Nations said on Thursday.

On average 13 people have been killed each day since the day after the September 5 ceasefire, with a total of 957 deaths recorded up to November 18, the UN rights agency said.

The number of people registered as displaced within Ukraine soared from 275 489 in mid-September to 466 829 on Wednesday.

"The list of victims keeps growing," said UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

"Civilians, including women, children, minorities and a range of vulnerable individuals and groups continue to suffer the consequences of the political stalemate in Ukraine," he said in a statement, urging all parties to respect the truce.

Including the 298 people who died in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in July, the overall death toll since mid-April stood at 4 317 as of Tuesday, the UN rights office said.

Another 9 921 people have been injured.

This is "a conservative estimate", the report said, adding that "the actual number of fatalities may be much higher."

Crimes against humanity

In its seventh report, the 35-strong UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said there was a "total breakdown of law and order" in territories under the control of the self-proclaimed separatist people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

It detailed numerous rights abuses by armed groups, including torture, arbitrary and secret detention, summary executions, forced labour and widespread sexual violence.

The violations "are of a systematic nature and may amount to crimes against humanity", the report said.

One Ukrainian soldier said his right arm, bearing a "Glory to Ukraine" tattoo, had been chopped off with an axe by rebels, while another said separatists in Donetsk had "started cutting off his ear".

A member of an armed group also reportedly raped a local woman after shoving a grenade into her mouth, the report said.

It also detailed the "trial" of a suspected rapist in a public square, where 340 residents voted to sentence him to death.

"There is no real protections, no real guarantees of any kind," Gianni Magazzeni, who heads the rights agency's Americas, Europe and Central Asia branch, told reporters.

Ukrainian troops too are committing violations, the report found.

One Donetsk rebel detained by Ukrainian forces said he had been suffocated with a plastic bag and repeatedly beaten.

The investigators also lashed out at the reported use of cluster munitions in urban and rural areas - a violation of international humanitarian law and possibly a war crime.

Influx of foreign fighters

The UN investigators also said an influx of sophisticated weapons and foreign fighters, including Russian troops, was having a devastating impact on the rights situation.

Between 24 September and 31 October, observers with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe had spotted 2 751 people in military-style clothing crossing two border crossings with Russia in both directions, the report said.

The investigators also called for an investigation into reports of mass graves, including one at a mine near the village of Nyzhnya Krynka east of Donetsk containing the bodies of four people allegedly summarily executed.

The violence was forcing increasing numbers to flee their homes, the report said, adding out that on average more than 2 000 new internally displaced people were registered each day since mid-September.

Most of the nearly 467 000 displaced had fled the east, but more than 19 000 came from Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March.

The rights situation was deteriorating in Crimea, the report said, highlighting a growing number of enforced disappearances of Crimean Tatars.

Another 508,515 Ukrainians also fled to neighbouring countries as of November 14, most to Russia.

Read more on:    russia  |  ukraine

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