OSCE Urges Restraint on All Paries in Ukraine Conflict to Protect Civilians

Ukraine | January 24, 2015, Saturday // 12:43|  views

Local residents watch Grad rocket launchers of pro-Russian rebels in downtown Donetsk, Ukraine, 22 January 2015. Photo EPA/BGNES

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has again called for restraint of all parties involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine following new killing of civilians in the Donetsk region.

“Our observations in Donetsk, Debaltseve and Volnovakha confirmed the injuries and loss of civilian lives during the past week,” the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine of the OSCE said in a statement on Saturday.

The monitoring mission particularly urged to abstain from the use of force, including the use of heavy weapons such as unguided Grad rockets and strongly condemned the continuation of the fighting in residential areas.

“Using residential areas as firing positions attracts counter-firing to these areas, further endangering the lives of civilians,” the monitoring mission said in a statement.

OSCE urged all parties to immediately stop the fighting and withdraw heavy weapons and armed units from the airport and from all adjacent residential areas of the city of Donetsk as agreed in the Minsk ceasefire deal.

Meanwhile, Kiev government forces and the pro-Russian rebels have continued trading blame for the latest escalation of fighting in the Donetsk region which has been the deadliest so far.

According to the United Nations, at least 262 people have been killed over the past nine days, taking the total death toll in the conflict to more than 5,000 people, many of them civilians. More than a million people have been displaced since fighting started in April 2014.

Rebels in eastern Ukraine on Friday vowed to extend their advances against government troops and boycott further peace talks. The announcement came dispute international calls to return to a ceasefire line agreed in Minsk in September.

The European Union called on Moscow to "assume its responsibility" to end the separatist war in Ukraine.

“Public statements distorting the reality on the ground, inciting to hatred and further violence, will not lead to the badly needed de-escalation,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Friday.

"Time is running out in eastern Ukraine where the escalation of fighting has caused far too many civilian as well as military casualties," Mogherini said in a statement.

Russia has repeatedly denied accusations from the West that it is stoking the conflict in eastern Ukraine by supplying arms and even troops to the rebels. On Friday, President Vladimir Putin blamed Kiev for the latest escalation of fighting.

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Tags: Ukraine, fighting, Kiev, Russia, OSCE, Putin, Mogherini, Donetsk


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