UN rights chief urges halt to escalated fighting in Ukraine

UN rights chief urges halt to escalated fighting in Ukraine

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Tuesday called [press release] for both sides of the Ukraine conflict [JURIST backgrounder] to halt “the dangerous escalation in the fighting” in response to the human rights “situation in the east of the country.” The death toll now exceeds 5,358, and Zeid said that many public placed have now become “battlegrounds,” such as “bus stops and public transport, market places, schools and kindergartens, hospitals and residential areas.” The commissioner noted that in the past three weeks alone, “at least 224 civilians have been killed and 545 wounded.” Zeid warned that further escalation “will prove catastrophic” for those living in the midst of conflict—approximately 5.2 million individuals.

The Ukrainian government has been subject to significant criticism for human rights violations and the use of incendiary weapons [JURIST report]. In July the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report documenting what it referred to as the “continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in eastern Ukraine and calling for greater care to prevent civilian casualties [JURIST report]. In April the International Criminal Court opened an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes in Ukraine.