17 January 2024

Sharp increase in civilian casualties in Ukraine, says UN

17 January 2024

More than 100 civilians were killed by Russia’s missile and drone attacks across Ukraine during December, according to a UN report which said nearly 500 were injured.

The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine’s report, published on Tuesday, said there was a 26.5% increase in civilian casualties last month – from 468 in November to 592 in December.

With some reports pending verification, it said the increase was likely higher.

Danielle Bell, who heads the UN’s monitoring mission, said: “Civilian casualties had been steadily decreasing in 2023, but the wave of attacks in late December and early January violently interrupted that trend.”

The UN mission said it is verifying reports the missile and drone attacks that began hitting populated areas across Ukraine on December 29 and continued into early January killed 86 civilians and injured 416 others.

“These attacks sow death and destruction on Ukraine’s civilians who have endured profound losses from Russia’s full-scale invasion for almost two years now,” Ms Bell said.

The UN said the highest number of casualties occurred during attacks on December 29 and January 2 amid plummeting winter temperatures.

On January 4, it said, Russian missiles struck the small town of Pokrovsk and nearby village of Rivne close to the front lines, burying two families – six adults and five children – in the rubble of their homes. Some bodies have still not been found, it said.

In another attack on January 6, the blast wave from a Russian missile strike in Novomoskovsk injured 31 civilians, including eight passengers on a minibus that was destroyed during the morning commute, the UN said.

The confirmed number of civilians killed since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 2022 is more than 10,200, including 575 children, and the number of injured is more than 19,300, the UN humanitarian office’s operations director Edem Wosornu told the UN Security Council last week.

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