Eastern Ukraine conflict leaves nearly 6,500 dead: UNHCR

Geneva, June 2 (IANS/EFE) The conflict in eastern Ukraine has caused at least 6,417 deaths and 15,962 injuries, according to the latest report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, or UNHCR.

The figures, released on Monday, were arrived at by both the UNHCR and the World Health Organization, or WHO, and includes victims recorded from mid-April 2014 until May 30, 2015.

“This is a conservative estimate and the actual numbers could be considerably higher,” the report said.

The text indicated that although there was a decrease in bombings after the adoption of Minsk agreement on February 12, they have not stopped as hostilities between the Ukrainian armed forces and armed pro-Russian separatists have been ongoing.

“Civilian casualties from landmines and unexploded ordnance are still considerable,” the report found.

The document recounts that since April 11, the Donetsk airport and the city of Shyrokzne have been caught up in intense crossfire.

“Reports of sophisticated heavy weaponry and fighters being supplied from the Russian Federation persisted,” the report added.

Experts also found evidence of “serious human rights abuses, intimidation and harassment of the local population perpetrated by the armed groups.”

“The monitoring mission received new allegations of killings, torture and ill-treatment, as well as cases of illegal deprivation of liberty, forced labour, looting, ransom demands and extortion of money on the territories controlled by the armed groups.”

High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein himself made a statement denouncing the price paid by civilians throughout the conflict.

“We have documented alarming reports of summary executions by armed groups and are looking into similar allegations against Ukrainian armed forces. We also have horrific accounts of torture and ill-treatment in detention, both by armed groups and Ukrainian law enforcers,” Zeid said.

The report emphasised the long-term impact the conflict would have on local populations, and that citizens who live in the country would become increasingly isolated and suffer the consequences of the government’s decision to deprive them of basic social services.

Finally, the report referred to the situation in Crimea, where the local population, especially the Tatar minority, continues to suffer “arrests, ill-treatment, torture and intimidation” by the authorities, which are under effective control of the Russian Federation

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