Ukraine conflict claims on average 10 lives daily despite ceasefire

The conflict in eastern Ukraine is still claiming about 10 lives a day among government troops, pro-Russian separatists and civilians despite a ceasefire agreed in early September, the United Nations said.

Over 3,660 people have died and 8,766 been wounded in eastern Ukraine since fighting broke out in mid-April when armed separatists declared they were setting up their own state, the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

The overall death rate has dropped sharply since the ceasefire began, according to the latest monthly report by the nine international monitors and 24 support staff sent in March to the former Soviet republic now at odds with Russia.

“The situation has improved since the ceasefire, but it is still concerning,” Gianni Magazzini, of the office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, told a news conference to present the report.

Since the ceasefire was agreed in Minsk between Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, Russian president Vladimir Putin and separatist chiefs, at least 331 deaths have been recorded in the conflict area, it said.

In a separate statement, Zeid called on both sides in the fighting to “halt the attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure once and for all”.

The report said the separatist fighters “continue to terrorise the population in areas under their control”.

The fighters, it said, were “pursuing killings, abductions and torture” and seizing property and businesses at will.

They abducted people for ransom and forced labour or to be exchanged for their own men captured by Ukrainian forces.

But the report also recorded allegations of human rights violations by some of the volunteer battalions fighting alongside the poorly-equipped Ukrainian army.

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