Civilian casualties in E. Ukraine drop by 55%, but landmines still threaten locals – UN

© Sergey Averin
The ceasefire observed by all parties in the Ukrainian conflict has led to a 55 percent reduction in deaths and injuries among civilians in Donbass, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. However, the overall threat has not been eliminated.

The truce agreed by Kiev and the rebels in eastern Ukraine on September 1 “largely held for the past two months,” a Humanitarian Bulletin on Ukraine, released by OCHA on Saturday, stressed.

“During September 2015, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 43 civilian casualties in the conflict zone (nine killed and 34 injured) – a more than 55 percent reduction compared to an average monthly casualty figure of 95 between February 16 and August 15,” the paper said.

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According to the UN body, the main risk for civilians has shifted from actual warfare to mines and unexploded ordnance.

“Landmines, ERW and IEDs accounted for 81 per cent of all civilian casualties (both killed and injured) in September,” the bulletin said.

De-mining efforts are being performed on both sides of the ‘contact-line,’ “the scope of contamination outweighs available capacity and resources,” OCHA said.

“Estimates by the mine action sub-cluster partners indicate that at least 30,000 hectares of land in eastern Ukraine might be contaminated,” the paper said.

Ukraine has been involved in a deadly military conflict since April 2014 when the government sent troops to southeastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions, in which rebels refused to recognize the new coup-imposed power in Kiev.

Over 8,000 people lost their lives in the fighting, while 1.4 million were displace within Ukraine and nearly a million fled the country, according to UN estimates.