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Human rights situation precarious in Ukraine despite lull in hostilities: report
December 10,2015   By:Xinhua
GENEVA, Dec.10,2015-- The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) said on Wednesday that though a significant reduction of hostilities in parts of Eastern Ukraine has been observed over the last few months, serious human breaches continue to persist.
 
Based on the twelfth UN Human Rights report of its kind on the situation in Ukraine, findings show that 47 civilians were killed and 131 injured between August 16 and November 15, a considerable drop compared to the 105 fatalities and 308 injured recorded over the previous reporting period (May 16 - August 15).
 
According to findings, the 'ceasefire within the ceasefire' agreed upon in Minsk on August 26 this year helped reduce hostilities as heavy weapons were withdrawn by both the Ukrainian military and armed groups while exchanges of artillery and light weapons fire became almost non-existent in September and October.
 
Despite these positive trends, human rights abuses persist amid reports of protracted impunity, killings, torture, absence of rule of law and lack of freedom of movement and expression in the self-proclaimed "Donetsk people's republic and "Luhansk people's republic."
 
The onset of winter is also expected to compound the humanitarian situation prevailing in affected areas where residents lack effective protection of their rights.
 
"An estimated 2.9 million people living in the conflict area continued to face difficulties in exercising their economic and social rights, in particular access to quality medical care, accommodation, social services and benefits, as well as compensatory mechanisms for damaged, seized or looted property," the report explained.
 
Inflows of ammunition, weaponry as well as fighters from the Russian Federation into territories controlled by armed groups also means that the situation on the ground remains highly volatile amid reports of increasing skirmishes occurring along the contact line in the first half of November.
 
Some 800,000 people living on both sides of the contact line are living through particularly strenuous times due to civilian freedom of movement limitations.
 
This is creating an increased sense of isolation for many people as family and communal links are disrupted, the report said.
 
"Civilians in the conflict-afflicted eastern parts of Ukraine end the year as they began it, in a very difficult humanitarian and human rights situation. Elderly people have no access to their life savings, people with disabilities have little assistance, and reduced access to healthcare has left many in dismal, precarious, even life-threatening situations," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in statement.
 
"After more than 9,000 people have lost their lives, the reduction in hostilities, and thus in new casualties, is very welcome. I urge all sides to fully implement the Minsk Agreements and to actively work to ensure the application of the rule of law and international human rights norms everywhere in Ukraine," he added.
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