National Security

13 Deaths Per Day in Ukraine Despite Peace Deal

‘Killings, abductions, torture’ rampant in separatist-controlled east

Pro-Russian rebel military vehicles convoy move towards Donetsk , Eastern Ukraine, Monday, Nov. 10
Pro-Russian rebel military vehicles convoy move towards Donetsk , Eastern Ukraine, Monday, Nov. 10 / AP

An average of 13 people are dying each day in the Ukraine conflict despite the existence of a peace agreement, according to the United Nations.

The New York Times reports that fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east has claimed 1,357 lives since the "ceasefire" deal in early September. More than 4,700 people have been killed since hostilities began earlier this year.

The UN report provides a harrowing account of conditions in the separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine:

The situation around the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, under the control of pro-Russian armed groups, has been characterized by "killings, abductions, torture, ill treatment, sexual violence, rape, forced labor, ransom, extortion," said Gianni Magazzeni, head of the division of the United Nations human rights office that deals with Europe and Central Asia. […]

More than a million people have fled the areas of conflict in eastern Ukraine, and more than half a million have been displaced internally. Many others have taken refuge in Russia and in other European countries.

Living conditions for about five million civilians in rebel-controlled areas are expected to deteriorate further with the government’s decision to suspend services like education and basic health care, as well as social payments, to prevent those payments from falling into the hands of armed groups.

The government has maintained gas and electricity supplies to areas under the control of armed groups for humanitarian reasons, the United Nations said, but some areas affected by fighting have reportedly had no electricity for six months, and as a result, water supply, sewage and communications systems have ceased to function. The United Nations, expressing concern for the hardship that the decision to suspend services was likely to cause civilians, urged the government to "look seriously at the human rights implications."

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko expressed hopes on Tuesday that a decline in rebel shelling attacks could lead to more progress on the peace deal, though there were reports that another Ukrainian soldier had been killed.

President Barack Obama is "evaluating" whether he will sign a bipartisan bill that would impose further sanctions on Russia and provide arms to Ukraine, according to a senior administration official. The United States accuses Russia of funneling thousands of troops and heavy military equipment into Ukraine to prop up the separatist forces.