She highlighted the urgent need to end the fighting and violence in the eastern regions, before more civilians are harmed or forced to flee, or face intolerable hardships trapped inside the conflict zones."
Geneva, Aug 29 - Intense fighting, including the use of heavy weaponry by both independence-seeking rebels and Ukrainian troops in densely populated areas of eastern Ukraine, has increased the loss of civilian life, the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said Friday in a new report.
The report, which covers the period July 16 to Aug 17, expressed dismay over the killing and wounding of civilians who are trapped in urban areas or attempting to flee the fighting in eastern Ukraine using safe corridors established by the government, Xinhua reported.
It documented a wide array of serious human rights abuses committed primarily by the armed groups who have seized control over a large part of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine since mid-April.
According to the report, civilians fleeing the intense and prolonged fighting in eastern Ukraine have been targeted and killed.
Others have been prevented by the armed groups from leaving the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk as the Ukraine government tightened its blockades around the two main strongholds of the armed groups.
Meanwhile, supposedly safe corridors established by the Ukrainian forces to enable residents to flee from these cities, traversed areas where the fighting was ongoing. Civilians using these corridors were subsequently killed or injured.
Deliberate targeting of civilians is a violation of international humanitarian law, and more must be done to protect them, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement.
All those involved in the hostilities in the affected areas of the east must at all times comply with the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. This is particularly important in densely populated areas, she said.
She highlighted the urgent need to end the fighting and violence in the eastern regions, before more civilians are harmed or forced to flee, or face intolerable hardships trapped inside the conflict zones.
Although more than half the population of Luhansk and Donetsk has fled, not enough was done in time to evacuate people from the areas of fighting, the report said, especially those most vulnerable such as institutionalized children, older people and people with disabilities.