At least 331 people have been killed in clashes in eastern Ukraine since Kiev and Russian-backed rebels signed agreements to enact a cease-fire and create a demilitarized buffer zone last month, the United Nations said Wednesday.
Hostilities persist in the main rebel-held city of Donetsk, as well as around the towns of Debaltseve and Schastye.
Donetsk is a hub of support for Russian-backed armed groups seeking to secede from a government in Kiev allied to the European Union. Ukraine deposed a Russian-friendly president, Viktor Yushchenko, after mass street demonstrations last winter.
In March, Moscow successfully annexed Ukraine’s largely Russian-speaking Crimean peninsula, the site of strategic ports where the Kremlin's navy had docked for decades.
At least 3,660 people have been killed over six months of fighting, according to U.N. estimates. The global body says some deaths reported since the Sept. 5 cease-fire agreement may include individuals killed before that date.
Donetsk airport, the focus of much of the fighting, has no immediate tactical significance for the separatist forces that lack air power. However, the government's hold on the facility gives it a strategic position to attack rebel positions in the city.
Donetsk city hall reported Wednesday that three civilians died overnight from shelling. There appeared to be no sign of unrest in the city throughout the morning.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement that the security crisis needed to be tackled so residents of east Ukraine could reclaim their rights to education, adequate health care, housing and employment. The U.N. estimates some 5 million people are being deprived of their basic rights due to the conflict in east Ukraine.
"While the cease-fire is a very welcome step toward ending the fighting in eastern Ukraine, I call on all parties to genuinely respect and uphold it, and to halt the attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure," Zeid said.
Rebels and government officials regularly blame each other for the civilian deaths.
Separatist fighters have been observed firing artillery from residential areas, eliciting hasty responses from Ukrainian troops that often miss their mark and hit houses.
The U.N. report cites the Ukrainian government as saying more than 4,500 residential buildings have been damaged or destroyed in the fighting. At least 22 settlements remain without running water, while another 93 settlements have no electricity, the report said.
Lack of proper housing has become particularly acute with the approach of winter, when temperatures in the region can drop below freezing for weeks on end. According to government information from mid-September, some 25,500 displaced people were living in shelters unsuited for winter residence, the U.N. said.
Al Jazeera and wire services