There are over 1 million Donbass refugees in Ukraine - UN report

The number of internally displaced persons has exceeded 1 million in Ukraine, says a new UN report on the observance of human rights in Ukraine, released on Monday.

The situation in the regions where intense fighting was on is deemed critical, chief of the UN human rights mission in Ukraine Armen Arutyunyan said at a press briefing in Kyiv on Monday. People who refused to leave their homes in the zones of fighting are in need of food and medicine, he said.

Arutyunyan also said, citing figures available to the mission, that the conflicting parties have been increasingly using heavy weaponry, including the multiple rocket launchers "used in the shelling of Mariupol on January 24 which left 31 people dead."

The shelling attacks on populated areas which were rather frequent before the announcement of the ceasefire on February 15, led to heavy civilian losses, he said.

Arutyunian said human rights abuses were reported in Crimea. "The situation in Crimea has been deteriorating due to recurrent human rights abuses and violations of the rights of Crimean Tatars and those who opposed the so-called referendum, in March 2014," he said.

Arutyunyan made special mention of the importance of compliance with the Minsk accords, saying there were fears of resumed fighting and a potential attack on Mariupol.

The UN official urged the Ukrainian leadership to continue investigating human rights abuses. "No serious progress is seen in ensuring liability for human rights abuses in the continuing conflict in eastern Ukraine and during the Maidan disturbances and in Odesa on May 2. The UN human rights mission urges the Ukrainian government to take exhaustive measures to bring those guilty to justice. Inquiries into human rights abuses must be continued," he said.

Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, who has been on hunger strike for 80 days, must be freed, Arutyunyan said.

Read more: German doctors confirm that Savchenko is fine - Russian Federal Penitentiary Service

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