There was a sharp increase in the number of civilian casualties in early May in the conflict zones in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission said on Friday in Kiev.
In the first six days of May, 19 civilians were injured or killed, said Bogner, adding that if further figures were confirmed, these would be the highest weekly figure of civilian casualties for the last two years.
A fragile ceasefire is in place in Donetsk and Luhansk where the casualties were recorded.
“All parties involved in hostilities in Donetsk and Luhansk regions should make the protection of civilians an absolute priority,” Bogner said in a call to the conflict parties.
“To a greater extent, my appeal is addressed to the command of the Joint Forces Operation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, since all new civilian casualties recorded by the Mission in May, occurred in territory controlled by the self-proclaimed ‘republics’,” she said.
In the absence of a sustainable ceasefire, parties should not place military posts in residential areas, she added.
According to the UN’s statement, 11 civilians were injured or killed between May 1 and 6, and a report of eight casualties was received on May 7.
There has been a third more civilian casualties so far this year compared to the same period last year, the statement said.
Parts of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine have been controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
Since then, 13,200 people have been killed according to UN estimates.