UN: 3,500 killed in conflict in eastern Ukraine
Death toll from eastern Ukraine crisis exceeds 3,543, UN Human Rights official says

The current death toll from the crisis in eastern Ukraine has reached at least 3,543, including the 298 victims of the Malaysian Airlines plane crash, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, has said.

Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, Simonovic introduced a report on human rights in Ukraine covering the period from 21 November 2013 to 5 September 2014.

Simonovic said: "Over the last six months, we have witnessed a marked deterioration of the human rights situation in the east and most recently south east of the country.

"The current registered death toll, as at 21 September, is 3,543, if we are to include the 298 victims of the Malaysian plane crash."

Regarding internally displaced people in Ukraine, Simonovic said: "The situation ... is alarming.

"In one month between early August and early September, the number of registered displaced persons has doubled and reached 275,498 registered as of 18 September."

"The majority of internally displaced persons (IDPs) seem to be unregistered and the actual number could, therefore, be much higher. Most IDPs rely on the generosity of family and friends willing to host them in their homes as well as their own existing savings," he added.

'Freedoms curtailed'

Regarding concerns over the human rights situation in Crimea, Simonovic said: "The introduction of Russian Federation legislation in Crimea has curtailed the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, association, religion or belief.

"Property rights have been violated through 'nationalization' and the illegal seizure of property by the decision of the de facto authorities and actions by the so-called Crimean self-defense."

"Residents of Crimea who have refused to obtain Russian citizenship are particularly affected," he added.

Simonovic also said Crimean Tatars had been facing discrimination, particularly in the areas of education, employment and property rights.

"As of 18 September, the number of IDPs from Crimea stood at 17,294, according to the State Emergency Services," Simonovic noted.

Kiev: 700 Ukrainian soldiers seized by separatists

Pro-Russian separatists have taken hundreds of soldiers hostage in eastern Ukraine, according to a Ukrainian Security and Defense Council official.

The statement was issued on Tuesday after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that more than 1,200 Ukrainian captives had been released by separatists since a ceasefire deal on September 5.

Vasily Vovk said in the statement: "Around 700 Ukrainian soldiers were taken hostage by pro-Russian separatists."

Meanwhile, Ukrainians have provided army forces with 149 million Ukrainian Hryvnia (roughly $12 million) within the framework of the Support the Army of Ukraine campaign, Ukraine's defense ministry also announced on Tuesday.

Kiev and pro-Russian rebels agreed the September 5 truce in the Belarusian capital of Minsk in a bid to end a five-month conflict which has left over 2,500 people killed, according to United Nations estimates.

Unrest in eastern Ukraine has torn the region apart since April, when Kiev launched military operations in the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk to restore government control after separatists declared independence in the region.

Last Modified: 2014-09-24 08:00:45
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