Amnesty International's annual report has condemned the international response to the world's humanitarian disasters. 2014 also saw the highest number of displaced people in 70 years.
Amnesty International released its annual report on Wednesday, highlighting the state of human rights around the world in 2014. Besides detailing the human toll of conflicts from Nigeria to Syria, the rights group denounced the global community for "shameful and ineffective" responses to world crises.
Cluster bombs in Ukraine
The report was highly critical of both Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels fighting in the east of the country. Both sides are responsible for the high number of civilian casualties, according to the report, because of the indiscriminate firing of unguided mortars and rockets in populated areas.
The organization's senior director for research, Anna Neistat, added that though it has been difficult to determine, "taking into account everything we understand for now" cluster bombs, large explosives which release many other smaller explosives over a wide area, were used by both government troops and separatists.
"Both sides failed to take reasonable precautions to protect civilians, in violation of the laws of war," read the report, adding that abductions, torture and summary killings had also characterized the violence in Ukraine in 2014.
International response "found wanting"
Both the report and Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty had harsh words for the global community. "As people suffered an escalation in barbarous attacks and repression, the international community has been found wanting," Shetty said in a statement.
"It is abhorrent to see how wealthy countries' efforts to keep people out take precedence over their efforts to keep people alive," he continued, as the number of people displaced worldwide topped 50 million for the first time since the end of World War II.
The growing influence of non-state armed groups like Boro Haram and "Islamic State" (IS) was a major concern, Amnesty said: "IS fighters committed widespread war crimes, including ethnic cleansing of religious and ethnic minorities though a campaign of mass killings of men and abduction and sexual and other abuse of women and girls."
The report also calls on the five permanent members of the UN security council to renounce their veto rights in situations of mass atrocities, as China and Russia have consistently blocked international action in Syria, where more than 210,000 have been killed since the conflict began, according to the Syrian observatory for human rights.
EU under fire
The European Union also drew the ire of the rights group for the handling of the refugee crisis sparked by the violence in Syria, Nigeria, and Libya, saying the European response was actually "pushing people into the water of the Mediterranean."
The head of Amnesty's Italian office, Gianni Rufini, said the EU was "burying its head in the sand" when it came to dealing with the 200,000 migrants, 75 percent of whom are asylum seekers and entitled to enter Europe, who arrived on its shores in 2014. 170,000 of them arrived in Italy.
Rufini, and Amnesty's report, accuse the EU of being more concerned with protecting its borders than saving lives when it replaced Italy's Mare Nostrum program, which Italy said was too expensive for it to carry on alone, with the much smaller scale Triton sea patrol mission.
Amnesty said that 3,400 are presumed to have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean last year in hopes of reaching Europe, with Salil Shetty was a result of "a lack of support by some EU member states."
es/bw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)