The UN High Commissioner has stated that the Ukrainian conflict has “catastrophic results” for the civilians, especially during escalation of violence, chaotic fights and harsh winter weather conditions, which pose a threat to millions of people. Only throughout the last 3 weeks of January 224 civilians were declared to be dead, while 545 were wounded.
“Bus stops and public transport, marketplaces, schools and kindergartens, hospitals and residential areas have become battlegrounds in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine – in clear breach of international humanitarian law which governs the conduct of armed conflicts,” Zeid said.
Despite the earlier memorandums, the situation in the Ukrainian territory is still deteriorating, and the media reports suggest that there are many recruitment campaigns being carried out by so called “separatists” within the areas over which they have under control. Zeid R’aad Zeid Al-Hussein stated that the activities carried out by the anti-government forces are dangerous and worrying.
High civilian death toll is being noted in the housing estates controlled by the government forces, including: Avdiyivka, Debaltsewo, Popasna, Shchastya and Luhansk, as well as within those controlled by the “separatists”, particularly in Donetsk and Horlivka. In the most deadly incident involving civilians, at least 31 people were killed and 112 wounded in Mariupol.
“The protection of civilians by all parties to the conflict must be of the utmost priority,” Zeid said, adding: “All violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law must be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators must be promptly brought to justice.”
The High Commissioner also noted the “worrying events” in the Crimea, where breaches of the rights of the Tatars were reported multiple times. It was last week, when the premises of ATR, the only television channel of the Tatar minority which is living in Crimea, were reportedly raided by armed, masked men in unmarked military clothing, and the Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Mr. Ahtem Ciygoz, was detained. He faces up to 10 years in prison for creating “mass disturbances” in Simerfopol in February 2014.
Adam Lelonek, PhD