UN says death toll from conflict in east Ukraine exceeds 5,350
Iran Press TV
Tue Feb 3, 2015 2:46PM
The United Nations has expressed concern over civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine, announcing that the death toll from conflict in the region has exceeded 5,350.
At least 5,358 people have been killed in the eastern Ukraine crisis since mid-April 2014, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein on Tuesday.
Some 12,235 people have been injured since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine, the UN official said, adding that at least 224 civilians were killed and 545 wounded over a time span of only three weeks in January.
Hussein voiced alarm that any further escalation of chaos will be disastrous for the 5.2 million residents of the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence pro-Russia protests there in mid-April last year.
Condemning indiscriminate shelling attacks which have led to major civilian casualties, the UN official urged all the parties involved in the conflict to consider an "utmost priority" the protection of civilians' lives.
Back in September 2014, representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk inked a ceasefire deal in the Belarusian capital, Minsk. The truce has been violated on an almost daily basis by both the Ukrainian military and pro-Russia forces.
Violence intensified in May that year after the two flashpoint regions held local referendums in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.
Kiev, the United States and the European Union accuse Moscow of involvement in the chaotic situation in eastern Ukraine and have imposed a series of sanctions against Russian and pro-Russia figures. Moscow rejects the accusation.
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