Civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine highest since August 2015

An armed pro-Russian separatist of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) stands in front of the destroyed Donetsk International Airport, in Donetsk.

Story highlights

  • There were 73 civilian casualties in July
  • A ceasefire hasn't completely stopped the violence

(CNN)The increasingly tense situation on the frontline between government forces and separatists in eastern Ukraine has resulted in a spike in civilian casualties, according to new figures released by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The agency documented 69 civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine in June, including 12 dead and 57 injured -- nearly double the figure for May and the highest figure since August 2015. July saw 73 civilian casualties, including eight dead and 65 injured.
    The civilian casualties for June and July nearly doubled the monthly average for the previous nine months, according to OHCHR.
    "The escalation of hostilities and the accompanying civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine over the last two months are very worrying," Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement.
    "The many casualties we have documented in recent weeks suggest that neither Ukrainian forces nor the armed groups are taking the necessary precautions to protect civilians," he said.
    More than half the total casualties recorded in the past two months were caused by shelling, while the remaining part were caused by mines, booby traps and improvised explosive devices, according to OHCHR.
    "Civilians are once again having to flee to improvised bomb shelters in their basements, sometimes overnight, with increasing frequency," Zeid said. "The price of the ceasefire violations is too high for the women, men and children in eastern Ukraine."

    Situation near the front remains volatile

    The signing of a ceasefire agreement in February last year in the Belarus capital Minsk hasn't stopped the violence completely. Violations committed by all sides are frequently documented.
    Schools and hospitals have been shelled or used by Ukrainian forces and armed groups, and civilian homes have been destroyed or looted, according to OHCHR.
    Some of the heaviest shelling over the last 24 hours was in the Avdiivka area, in Donetsk region, where mortar fire was fired during the day and night hours, according to the Ukrainian military.