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UN Human Rights Chief Deplores 'Horrific Human Cost' Of Russia-Ukraine War

22.02.2024 16:12

Volker Turk says no end in sight to war in Ukraine, and UN has over 30,000 verified civilian casualties, with many more likely.

Russia's war on Ukraine has exacted a horrific human cost, inflicting immense suffering on millions of civilians, the UN human rights chief said on Thursday.

"Russia's full-scale armed attack on Ukraine, which is about to enter its third year with no end in sight, continues to cause serious and widespread human rights violations, destroying lives and livelihoods," said Volker Turk.

In its latest report, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has verified 30,457 civilian casualties since Feb. 24, 2022 made up of 10,582 killed and 19,875 injured, with the actual numbers likely to be significantly higher.

Millions have been displaced, thousands have lost their homes, and hundreds of medical and educational institutions have been damaged or destroyed, significantly impacting people's rights to health and education.

"The long-term impact of this war in Ukraine will be felt for generations," said Turk.

This month marks two years since Russia's full-scale armed attack and also 10 years since it illegally annexed Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, said the UN Human Rights Office.

Over the past two years, the office has documented widespread torture, ill-treatment, and arbitrary detention of civilians by Russian armed forces.

"Summary executions, enforced disappearances, and repression of the right to freedom of expression and assembly have also been documented in occupied territory," said the office.

Prisoner of war interviews

Additionally, interviews with more than 550 former Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilian detainees by the monitoring mission indicate severe violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the Russian armed forces.

These include summary execution and widespread torture.

The UN said that since Feb. 2, 2022, the already dire human rights situation in occupied Crimea has worsened, with a crackdown on those criticizing the occupation.

The UN Human Rights Office will release a report on the decade-long Russian occupation next week.

"The ongoing Russian assault does not exempt Ukrainian forces from their own obligations to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law," said Turk.

During the past two years, the Human Rights Office has documented several violations committed by Ukrainian military and security forces, "albeit a fraction of the scope of those perpetrated by Russian forces," said the UN.

Turk acknowledged that the UN Human Rights Office continuously engages with Ukrainian authorities to address these issues.

The human rights chief called for all human rights violations and international humanitarian law to be thoroughly and independently investigated to ensure accountability and reparations to victims.

He renewed his call on Russia to cease its continuing armed attack on Ukraine immediately, further to its obligations under international law and the UN Charter.

Turk emphasized the urgency of achieving a just peace.

He also appealed again to Russia to allow the UN Human Rights Office and other independent international organizations full access to all those deprived of their liberty during the armed conflict.

This Saturday marks two years since Russia launched its war on Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. -

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