Ukraine: Report documents mounting deaths, rights violations
Civilians continue to pay a horrendous price in the war in Ukraine, with nearly 10,000 dead and tens of thousands injured since conflict began in February 2022, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in the country said in a report published on Wednesday.
It reveals the deadly toll of Russia’s full-scale invasion on Ukrainian civilians, with almost six people killed and 20 wounded on average every single day between February and July of this year.
“In just six months covered by this report more than one thousand civilians died and nearly four thousand were injured,” said Danielle Bell, the Mission’s head.
Fear and destruction
Russian missile attacks against residential areas and vital infrastructure, as well as grain and agricultural facilities, continue to sow fear and destruction across Ukraine.
Meanwhile, civilians in areas occupied by Russia face torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence and arbitrary detention. Hundreds remain imprisoned, with their families unaware of their fate.
The war has caused millions of Ukrainians to fall below the poverty line, a situation that has been worsened by broad economic and social harm caused by attacks on vital infrastructure and agricultural facilities.
The destruction of the Khakovka dam in June is one example. The breach triggered major flooding and caused an environmental disaster which the report said will have long-term adverse effects on the rights and well-being of people living in the area.
"The war has wreaked havoc in the lives of millions of Ukrainians, including children who will have to live with horrific legacy of human loss, physical destruction, environmental damage, particularly contamination from explosive remnants of war, for many years to come,” Ms. Bell said.
Human rights monitors continued to document widespread torture and ill-treatment against civilians and prisoners of war (POWs) over the reporting period, including severe beatings, electrocution, mock executions, sexual violence and degrading treatment.
Appalling conditions of detention also continued, marked by lack of food and medical services, overcrowding, poor living conditions and sanitation, sleep deprivation, and no access to the outside world. Russia to date has refused to allow any access to the UN’s human rights monitors.
In contrast, Ukraine continues to grant them unfettered access to interned POWs, and conditions at its POW camp near the western city of Lviv have improved, according to the report.
Update on Olevnika attack
The UN Mission has also called for further investigation into the July 2022 attack on the penal colony at Olevnika, which killed 51 Ukrainian POWs and injured at least 139.
The report ruled out that a HIMARS rocket was used in the attack. Russia was also criticized for keeping POWs near the frontline, in violation of humanitarian law, and for not giving the UN access to the site.
Other issues covered include Russia introducing its own administrative and education systems in territory under its control. Residents of these areas were under pressure to accept Russian citizenship, for example, and men have been coerced to join the armed forces.
While highlighting progress on some issues in areas controlled by Ukraine, the report noted the continued prosecution of thousands of individuals accused of collaboration with Russia in areas previously under occupation.
Child transfers and deportations
The report also raised concern over the fate of Ukrainian children, including some in institutional care, who were transferred to other locations within occupied areas or deported to Russia.
Specific mention was made of the cases of children who had been sent to summer camps in Russia, purportedly with their parents’ consent, but then were not returned home.
Russia to date has failed to identify the children and reunite them with their families, the report said, urging the return of all deported and transferred individuals, including children and persons with disabilities.
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