A report by the United Nations said there had been an "alarming deterioration" in human rights in territory held by insurgents affiliated with the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR). The UN reported growing lawlessness in the region, documenting cases of targeted killings, torture, and abduction, primarily carried out by the forces of the Donetsk People's Republic.The UN also reported threats against, attacks on, and abductions of journalists and international observers, as well as the beatings and attacks on supporters of Ukrainian unity. A report by Human Rights Watch said "Anti-Kiev forces in eastern Ukraine are abducting, attacking, and harassing people they suspect of supporting the Ukrainian government or consider undesirable...anti-Kiev insurgents are using beatings and kidnappings to send the message that anyone who doesn't support them had better shut up or leave".
Non-governmental organisations, such as Amnesty International, have also raised concerns about the behaviour of some Ukrainian volunteer battalions. Amnesty International said that they often acted like "renegade gangs", and were implicated in torture, abductions, and summary executions.
In a report from the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, Ivan Šimonović, UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, wrote about illegal detention, abduction and intimidation of election officials in the self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics, and called for urgent action to prevent a Balkans-style war. He also warned of a humanitarian crisis due to a failure of social services in the region, and an exodus of people from affected areas. In October 2015, the DPR and LPR banned non-governmental organisations such as Doctors Without Borders and World Food Programmefrom the territory that they control. A report released on 3 March 2016 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that people that lived in separatist-controlled areas were experiencing "complete absence of rule of law, reports of arbitrary detention, torture and incommunicado detention, and no access to real redress mechanisms". In addition, the report noted "allegations of violations perpetrated with impunity by Ukrainian law enforcement officials—mainly elements of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU)—including enforced disappearances, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, and torture and ill-treatment".
According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), "The results of a psychosocial assessment of children in Donetsk Oblast in Eastern Ukraine are deeply troubling ... and indicate that about half of all children aged 7-18 have been directly exposed to adverse or threatening events during the current crisis." OSCE monitors spoke to refugees from Donetsk city in Zaporizhia. They said that men were "often not allowed" to leave the city, but were instead "forcibly enrolled in 'armed forces' of the so-called 'Donetsk People's Republic' or obliged to dig trenches".
By June 2015, the conflict had created 1.3 million internally displaced people (IDPs).According to the OHCHR, this number had grown to 1.6 million people by early March 2016.