Daily death toll rises in eastern Ukraine conflict

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2014, 11:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2014, 11:19pm

The estimated death toll in the Ukraine conflict nearly doubled to at least 2,086 as of August 10 from 1,129 on July 26, the United Nations human rights office said yesterday.

The figures came as a convoy of nearly 300 trucks carrying what Russia says is humanitarian aid for victims of fighting in eastern Ukraine continued its journey towards the border.

UN human rights spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said of the latest death toll figures: "This corresponds to a clear escalating trend."

On average, more than 60 people a day had been killed or wounded since fighting began in mid-April in eastern Ukraine, rising to at least 70 people a day in the first week of August, the spokeswoman said.

Nearly 5,000 have been wounded. The figures for casualties include Ukrainian soldiers, armed groups, pro-Russian militants and civilians, but are "very conservative estimates", Pouilly said.

"For instance, civilian casualties are likely to be under-reported, due to the continuing insecurity which prevents affected people from getting access to medical aid ... and because communication channels have been disrupted," she added.

It was not clear whether Russian soldiers were included in the UN estimates for casualties, which were based on information received from Ukrainian authorities as well as local medical facilities, Pouilly said. "We have no breakdown on nationalities or [civilian or military] status," she said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine denounced the dispatch of the Russian convoy as an act of Russian cynicism and said it would not be allowed in.

The comments reflected suspicions in Kiev and Western capitals that passage of the convoy into Ukraine could turn into a covert military action to help pro-Russian separatists now losing ground to government forces.