Ukraine conflict death toll soars past 3,000: UN
The death toll in Ukraine's conflict has soared past 3,000, likely by a significant margin, top UN human rights official Ivan Simonovic said Tuesday.
"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," Simonovic told the UN Human Rights Council.
Not counting the plane crash, the official toll therefore stands at 3,245.
"Let me add that this number covers killings registered by available resources, and that the actual number is likely to be significantly higher," the UN assistant secretary-general for human rights said.
Simonovic, a former justice minister of Croatia who was appointed to his UN post in 2010, has made regular monitoring visits to Ukraine since the country plunged into crisis after the ouster in February of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.
Pro-Moscow rebels rose up against the Kiev government after Yanukovych was forced from power, and Russia has repeatedly been accused by Kiev and West of arming them.
Moscow rejects the claim, and has in turn slammed Kiev's offensive against rebel bastions in the south and east of the country.
In the run up to a fragile ceasefire signed on September 5, the death toll rose sharply, Simonovic said.
Between mid-April and mid-July, the period covered by the UN's first four monitoring reports, an average of 11 people were killed daily.
From mid-July to mid-August, that figure more than tripled to 36 per day, then climbed to 42 before the ceasefire was signed.
Since the warring sides inked their deal, the rate of killings has fallen to below 10 per day, said Simonovic.
He said that the ceasefire and a related political deal signed the same day "present the most significant opportunity so far for a peaceful solution to the situation in the east".
"Although not fully respected so far, positive effects have already been felt," he said.
"There is a glimmer of hope that a peaceful solution to this conflict can still be found," he added.
© 2014 AFP