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UN: human rights abuse still prevalent in Ukraine

[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] warned [report, PDF; press release] Wednesday that, despite the fragile ceasefire in eastern Ukraine [BBC backgrounder], abuses such as abductions, torture and ill-treatment still affect local civilians daily. Since the ceasefire, announced September 5, 331 fatalities have been recorded. Many who were internally displaced during the height of the violence have returned to their homes but still face issues including water and gas shortages and lack of access to healthcare. Additionally, almost 40,000 small and medium local businesses have had to cease activity, leaving many without a means of income. According to the report, armed members of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk people's republic" and the "Luhansk people's republic" (composed primarily of former or current servicemen 'on leave'), have added to the number of civilian casualties, with the help of an increasing number of foreign fighters, including citizens thought to be from the Russian Federation. High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said "While the ceasefire is a very welcome step towards ending the fighting in eastern Ukraine, I call on all parties to genuinely respect and uphold it, and to halt the attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure once and for all."

A senior UN human rights official said last month that the death toll in Ukraine has risen above 3,000 and pleaded for peace to spare more bloodshed. The week before, then-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced the findings of a report [JURIST report] detailing the harsh war-like conditions in eastern Ukraine that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians. The report noted that civilian deaths are averaging approximately 36 per day, and also documented a number of serious human rights abuses committed primarily by the armed groups who seized control over a large part of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine. Late last month the OHCHR issued a report [JURIST report] documenting the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in Ukraine and calling for greater care to prevent civilian causalities in the region. Earlier in July Amnesty International cited [JURIST report] mounting evidence of abductions and violence against activists, protestors and journalists in eastern Ukraine.

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