The UN Security Council has expressed concern over the escalation of hostilities in eastern Ukraine and urged all parties involved to put an end to the violence.

The council said in a statement on Tuesday (31 January), "The members of the Security Council called for an immediate return to a ceasefire regime" and added that the renewed conflict is severely impacting civilians.

Ukraine and Russia accused each other for the increase in violence over the past few days in the frontline town of Avdiivka which has left thousands of residents without electricity and water in freezing temperatures.

However, Ukrainian troops claimed that the latest round of violence began after rebels attacked Avdiivka, which is held by the Ukrainian government and borders land, which is in control of separatists.

UN-appointed Humanitarian Coordinator at Kiev, Neal Walker said, "An immediate cessation of hostilities is urgently needed to prevent further loss of lives and to enable repair teams to urgently restore critical basic services to hundreds of thousands of affected civilians living in -10 below zero temperature."

Kiev said that it was considering evacuating residents from the town to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Since the conflict intensified on Sunday (29 January), at least eight personnel belonging to Ukrainian troops have been killed and 26 were injured. According to government statistics, the military saw its heaviest casualty toll since mid-December.

At least 9,700 people have lost their lives since the Ukrainian territory of Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation in March 2014.

Ukraine
Local residents have a meal at an emergency centre as shelling hit supply infrastructure in the government-held industrial town of Avdiyivka in Ukraine on 31 January 2017REUTERS/Maksim Levin