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UN says Donbass conflict ‘one of the deadliest in Europe since WWII’

The impact of the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine is severe

UNITED NATIONS, February 1. /TASS/. The conflict in eastern Ukraine is one of the deadliest in Europe since WWII, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report.

"The ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine is one of the deadliest in Europe since the Second World War. As a result, casualties continue to rise. In December 2017, OHCHR [the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights] recorded 39 conflict-related civilian casualties [7 killed and 32 injured). This is a 56 per cent increase compared to November, when 5 civilians were killed and 20 more injured," the report reads.

"The number of civilian casualties in December is also the highest since August 2017 with 42 civilians killed or injured. Shelling, including small-arms fire, mines, booby-traps or Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) remain the major causes of casualties among the civilians," OCHA added.

The report also said that "2017 was also one of the deadliest calendar years in terms of civilian casualties. OHCHR verifies that 105 civilians were killed and 486 were injured totalling the number of casualties to 591 civilians - this is a six per cent increase compared to 2016."

Aid for Ukraine

OCHA expressed concern over the safety and welfare of children in Ukraine, as well as over food security. "The Education Cluster reports that in 2017, a total of 42 educational facilities were damaged on both sides of the ‘contact line’ by the ongoing conflict. The Cluster reiterates that there was no single month, without a school being damaged or access to education impacted," the report says, adding that "a total of 64 educational facilities were directly affected by the conflict in 2017, either by conflict-related damage or temporary closure, affecting access to education for at least 6,500 children."

According to OCHA, "the impact of the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine is severe, with 1.2 million people found to be food insecure in the two eastern regions".

OCHA pointed to the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Ukraine launched by "the Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine (HC) together with the Minister for the Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs (MTOT)."

"The US$187 million 2018 HRP is a carefully elaborated and strictly prioritized plan, through which, over 32 international and 16 national organizations aim to provide assistance and protection to over 2.3 million most vulnerable people in need during 2018," the report stated.

After the 2014 coup in Ukraine, referendums were held in the country’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions, with most people voting in favor of establishing the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Their authorities refused to obey those who had seized power in Ukraine, which prompted the new Kiev government to launch a military operation in Donbass.

Earlier in January, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced that resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine was one of the UN priorities in 2018. On Tuesday, Spokesman for the UN Secretary General Stephane Dujarric said that the lack of progress in the political process was affecting the humanitarian situation in Donbass. According to the United Nations, "2018 is a critical year for both the 3.4 million men, women and children in need of humanitarian assistance and protection in Ukraine.".