US & World

UN says Ukraine death toll doubles in 2 weeks

Pro-Russian rebels stand at a security post on the outskirts of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, where at least 12 militiamen fighting alongside government troops against pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine have been killed in an ambush, a spokesman for their radical nationalist movement said Wednesday.
Pro-Russian rebels stand at a security post on the outskirts of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, where at least 12 militiamen fighting alongside government troops against pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine have been killed in an ambush, a spokesman for their radical nationalist movement said Wednesday.
Sergei Grits/AP

The number of people who have been killed in eastern Ukraine appears to have doubled in the last two weeks, the U.N. human rights office said Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the office, Cecile Pouilly, said the U.N.'s "very conservative estimates" show the death toll has risen to at least 2,086 people as of Aug. 10 from 1,129 on July 26.

At least 4,953 others have been wounded in the fighting since mid-April, she said in a statement. On average, she said, more than 60 people a day have been killed or wounded as part of "a clear escalating trend" of violence.

The totals reflect Ukrainian armed forces, civilians and armed groups, but the U.N. said the civilian casualties are "likely to be under reported" because of disruptions in communications and the difficulty people have getting medical aid.

Pouilly said the U.N. is taking "a cautious approach" toward the apparent doubling of the death toll because of the difficulty of getting firm figures on casualties.

In the last week, Ukrainian government forces have been closing on the few remaining rebel strongholds, including Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city. Hundreds of thousands have been fleeing the fighting in the city, which had a population of 1 million before the hostilities.