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 Hundreds of Donbas residents locked in "no man’s land," deprived of basic necessities, - UN report

The escalation of hostilities in eastern Ukraine has led to the death of civilians and destruction of vital infrastructure. Tens of thousands of Donbas residents have lost access to water and electricity in biting winter frosts while the humanitarian situation remains extremely difficult.

This is stated in a Wednesday report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Censor.NET reports.

The report covers the period between Nov. 16, 2016 and Feb. 15, 2017. It pays heed to a sharp escalation of hostilities between Jan. 29 and Feb. 3, 2017 that had a devastating impact on all aspects of life for civilians living along the contact line in eastern Ukraine. Fighting caused seven civilian deaths and 46 civilian injuries in only six day.

The report emphasizes that all victims of the conflict have the right to recognition, remedy and reparation. It welcomes steps taken by the government towards greater protection of civilians injured and maimed due to hostilities and urges Ukraine's authorities to ensure that all victims have effective access to the rights to health, an adequate standard of living, and social security regardless of which party of the conflict they belong to.

Read more: 9,940 people killed, 23,455 wounded in Donbas conflict, - UN

The document describes how in villages locked in "no man's land" between checkpoints several hundreds of people are isolated and deprived of basic necessities: no access to ambulance services; the nearest grocery store a seven-kilometer walk away; children crossing the contact line and walk up to three kilometers to go to school.

According to the United Nations, by undermining the freedom of movement, the contact line continues to isolate and divide communities in conflict-affected areas. On a daily basis, on average of 23,000 people wait for hours in degrading conditions to cross the contact line through one of only five available corridors.

While welcoming the government's efforts to improve access to social and economic rights across Ukraine, including for internally displaced persons, the report recalls that at least 160,000 pensioners residing in the territory controlled by armed groups have been deprived of their pensions since November 2014. The report urges the government to ensure that everyone has access to their social entitlements, including by de-linking access to pensions from IDP registration.

Read more: 91 attacks recorded yesterday, four Ukrainian soldiers wounded, - ATO Staff

U.N. experts once again expressed concerns about the parties' ill-treatment of captives and the conditions of their detention. They fear that people who are being held by armed groups are tortured and sexually abused.

The report also raises concerns regarding the abusive treatment of detainees and other human rights violations in Crimea. It describes cases of the authorities in Crimea extracting confessions through torture and ill-treatment; subjecting certain individuals to imposed psychiatric internment, and interfering in the professional activities of defense lawyers.

According to the document, across Ukraine, there is a low level of trust in the judiciary, mostly resulting from frequent abuses of due process, including undue delays and interference with the judicial process. While the trial of five Berkut servicemen accused of killing 48 protesters on Feb. 20, 2014 at Maidan in Kyiv is ongoing, the U.N. Human Rights Office remains concerned that senior level officials have not been held accountable. Almost three years since the May 2, 2014 violence in Odesa, those responsible for the deaths of 48 people have yet to be brought to justice.

Read more: UN: Prisoners taken from Crimea to Russia undergo torture

The report notes that after Nov. 16, 2016, 130 conflict-related civilian casualties, including 23 deaths and 107 injuries, have been registered. The total death toll from mid-April 2014 to March 12, 2017 is at least 9,940, with at least 23,455 people injured. These figures include Ukrainian armed forces, civilians and members of armed groups.
 
 
 
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