SHAFAQNA –The United Nations Human Rights chief says more than 6,000 people have been killed since violence broke out in eastern Ukraine last year.UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein announced the death toll in the fighting between Ukrainian army soldiers and pro-Russian forces in a statement released on Monday.
“More than 6,000 lives have now been lost in less than a year due to the fighting in eastern Ukraine,” Al Hussein said.
He slammed the deaths as a “merciless devastation of civilian lives and infrastructure” and called on both sides of the conflict to “halt the indiscriminate shelling and other hostilities that have created a dreadful situation for civilians.”
Ivan Simonovic, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, also recently said that “the deliberate targeting of civilian areas may constitute a war crime and if widespread and systematic, a crime against humanity.”
The political crisis erupted in Ukraine in November 2013 when the country’s then President Viktor Yanukovych refrained from signing an Association Agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Moscow. In February 2014, Yanukovych moved to Russia after the security situation in the country seriously deteriorated.
Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in mid-April last year to silence pro-Russia protests there.
On February 28, pro-Russian forces announced that they had nearly completed the pullback of heavy weapons from the frontline in the east of the country in compliance with a peace agreement signed last month in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.
About 14,000 people have been injured in the unrest.