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Ukraine civilians still suffering despite fighting lull: UN

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein delivers his speech at the opening of the main annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 29, 2016 in Geneva. / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein delivers his speech at the opening of the main annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 29, 2016 in Geneva. / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI

Despite a lull in fighting in east Ukraine, the low-level conflict between government forces and rebels continues to “significantly affect” civilians, the UN said Thursday as talks on the stalled peace process were to resume.

Talks on the Minsk agreement signed a year ago and aimed at forging a political solution to the nearly two-year war were to resume in Paris on Thursday, grouping foreign ministers from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.

“Despite a reduction in hostilities, the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine continued to significantly affect people residing in the conflict zone,” said a report issued by the office of UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Zeid said full implementation of the Minsk pact was crucial “for resolving the human rights crisis in Ukraine” and that civilians were “in urgent need of greater protection and support.”

He also called for “the withdrawal of foreign fighters, mercenaries and military equipment.”

In an updated toll, the UN said 9,160 people had been killed and 21,000 others injured since the conflict began, in figures that include civilians, Ukrainian troops and armed fighters.



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