Regarding the growing human rights challenges in eastern Ukraine, the United Nations Development Program in Ukraine (UNDP) called on civic human rights monitors and investigators to "seek justice for peace" in war-torn eastern Ukraine through better responses to human rights violations.
"Protection of human rights is fundamental to crisis resolution and reconciliation. Without ensuring them, it can be difficult for people to start a dialogue, realize their full capabilities, explore opportunities and live a peaceful and safe life," said Inita Paulovica, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in a press conference held in Kiev on Monday.
With the aim of increasing its targeted humanitarian assistance, the UNDP has worked in collaboration with two civil society organizations; the Center for Civil Liberties and the Luhansk Human Rights Defense Group projects to document and monitor human rights abuses in the war-torn rebel-held Donbass region. The "Justice for Peace in Donbas" coalition, comprised of 14 Ukrainian human rights organizations, currently documents violations to create a "database of human rights violations for information recording, storage, and analysis."
According to the United Nations' figures, since the violent clashes erupted in eastern Ukraine, more than 5,358 people were reportedly killed and 12,235 were injured. The UNDP underscored various human rights abuses and violations including "abductions, taking and holding hostages, torture, and extra-judicial executions" in civilian residential areas in the rebel-held region.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein also stressed the worsening humanitarian conditions in eastern Ukraine saying that "Bus stops and public transport, marketplaces, schools and kindergartens, hospitals and residential areas have become battlegrounds in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine in clear breach of international humanitarian law which governs the conduct of armed conflicts."
Meanwhile, the shaky Feb. 12 cease-fire agreement is generally holding firm in violence-stricken eastern Ukraine. However, the breaches of the renewed Minsk accords have been widely reported demonstrating that the months-long crisis in Ukraine's east has yet to be resolved despite a series of mediating talks and peace efforts. The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France would take further steps to implement the cease-fire agreement in the Ukraine conflict while calling on the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to take an active role in monitoring the truce violations and withdrawal of the weapons.
As pro-Russian rebels and Kiev government forces have both accused each other of violating the truce, fighting has slowed along the front line between Ukraine and rebel-controlled territory in the east. However, the rebels continue to advance in the east of the country with the seizure of the strategic eastern town of Debaltseve on Feb. 19.