The United Nations human rights office Friday confirmed over a thousand civilian casualties in Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion of the country but noted the actual toll is likely much higher.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded a total of 1,006 civilian casualties, including 331 killed and 675 injured. Of that total, nineteen children have been killed and 31 injured. The report found that most of those killed died from the use of wide impact explosive weapons, including heavy artillery, multi-launch rocket systems and missile and airstrikes. The report noted that the figures could rise pending the confirmation from the government-controlled territory, where receipt of information has been delayed due to the intense ongoing hostilities.
On Thursday, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet addressed the Human Rights Council, calling the Russian invasion of Ukraine “a new and dangerous chapter in world history.” She acknowledged the confirmed civilian deaths, including what she characterized as “concerning reports” of the use of cluster munitions by Russian forces. She called for the immediate cessation of the use of weapons with wide-area effects in urban areas. She noted there has been substantial damage to civilian buildings and infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and electricity and water.
She said that more than two million people have been displaced from their homes, with one million internally displaced and over a million having fled Ukraine entirely. She commended the countries that have received Ukrainian refugees but said that all refugees must be welcomed, warning that her office will be watching the refugee situation closely.
Bachelet told the Council that her office had been monitoring the situation in Ukraine for eight years, with a focus on the Donbas region and the Crimean Peninsula. She stated that human rights monitors will continue their work throughout the country during the war. It is vital, she said, that states abide by international law and allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance across the country. She urged for the protection of civilians and of captured soldiers, as required by international law, and she called for full accountability when those legal standards are not met.