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UN urges warring factions in Ukraine to stop strikes on civilians

August 29, 2014, 18:34 UTC+3 GENEVA
The UN Monitoring Mission has been receiving numerous accounts of indiscriminate use of heavy weaponry in densely populated areas in Ukraine
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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

© EPA/MARTIAL TREZZINI/Archive

GENEVA, August 29. /ITAR-TASS/. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday urged the warring factions in the Ukraine conflict to stop strikes on civilians as they violate international humanitarian law.

“Deliberate targeting of civilians is a violation of international humanitarian law, and more must be done to protect them,” Pillay said following the fifth report of the Monitoring Mission of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“All those involved in the hostilities in the affected areas of the east must at all times comply with the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. This is particularly important in densely populated areas,” she said.

The OHCHR Monitoring Mission has been receiving numerous accounts of indiscriminate use of heavy weaponry in densely populated areas. This runs counter to Kiev’s statements that its armed forces never attack such areas.

The Mission also held militias responsible for placing military hardware inside or near populated localities. “There is an urgent need to end the fighting and violence in the eastern regions, before more civilians are harmed or forced to flee, or face intolerable hardships trapped inside the conflict zones,” Pillay said.

According to the report, “civilians fleeing the intense and prolonged fighting in eastern Ukraine have been targeted and killed; others have been prevented by the armed groups from leaving the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk as the Ukraine Government tightened its blockades around the two main strongholds of the armed groups”.

Supposedly “safe” corridors established by the Ukrainian forces to enable residents to flee these cities, passed through areas where the fighting was ongoing. Civilians using these corridors were subsequently killed or injured, the report said.

The report documents a wide array of serious human rights abuses committed by both parties to the conflict, including abductions involving physical and psychological torture and ill-treatment of the detainees, with many subjected to forced labor.

The report also said that there had also been reports of human rights violations, such as arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and torture, committed by the Ukrainian territorial and special battalions.

Pillay said that “justice and accountability must replace impunity for major human rights violations that have occurred over the past four months.” She said “justice must be applied to all” and urged the government to take “firm action to prevent reprisals and all other forms of unlawful retribution”.

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