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The people of Ukraine are facing an overwhelming toll due to ongoing attacks that show no signs of stopping.
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The people of Ukraine are facing an overwhelming toll due to ongoing attacks that show no signs of stopping.

On Thursday, 5 October, an attack in the village of Hroza in the Kharkiv region resulted in the deaths of at least 52 people, including one child. This incident marked one of the deadliest attacks on civilians since Russia’s invasion in February last year.

Within a day, the area experienced another attack when missiles struck buildings in the heart of Kharkiv, resulting in the deaths of two individuals, one of whom was a child.

Civilian casualties

“Illegal under international law and the UN Charter, the ongoing war instigated by Russia has resulted in a devastating number of civilian deaths. The recent attacks in Kharkiv only add to this tragic toll,” stated Rosemary A. DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for political affairs at the United Nations, addressing ambassadors at the Security Council.

As of Sunday, October 8th, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has confirmed 9,806 civilian fatalities, including 560 children, and 17,962 injuries resulting from the ongoing conflict.

“The reported numbers are most likely significantly greater and sadly, will keep increasing if current trends persist,” stated Ms. DiCarlo.

Indiscriminate attacks

Over the past few weeks, there have been frequent attacks on civilians and civilian structures, such as grain storage facilities, throughout Ukraine.

“People living in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, Lviv, Sumy, Donetsk, Odesa, Kyiv and other areas have been experiencing relentless and sometimes random acts of violence.”

According to her, the combination of these actions, along with Russia’s departure from the Black Sea Initiative, not only poses a threat to the livelihoods of Ukrainian farmers, but also has the potential to worsen global hunger.

Disturbing state of human rights

Ms. DiCarlo reported to the Security Council the results of a report by the UN human rights office, which describes concerning instances of human rights abuses throughout the country, with the majority being linked to the actions of the Russian armed forces.

These offenses involve instances of sexual violence related to conflicts allegedly carried out by Russian military and prison personnel, as well as the unjust and isolated imprisonment of civilians in territories occupied by Russia.

The Office also recorded instances of unjustified imprisonment by Ukrainian forces, mainly involving law enforcement officials.

Russia’s obligation

Ms. DiCarlo noted that the OHCHR has shown worry about the new laws in Russia that may provide amnesty to its military personnel for various crimes, possibly even those that involve severe breaches of international human rights and humanitarian laws.

She reiterated Russia’s obligation under international law to investigate and prosecute potential war crimes and gross human rights violations committed by its forces in Ukraine.

Violent incidents targeting humanitarian personnel

Joyce Msuya, the United Nations’ Deputy Coordinator for Emergency Relief, also provided an update to the Security Council of 15 members, discussing relief efforts to assist individuals affected by “heinous attacks.”

Nonetheless, not only ordinary citizens are bearing the consequences, as she pointed out a significant increase in assaults on humanitarian workers, with 11 aid personnel allegedly murdered in 2023, compared to four in the previous year.

She expressed great admiration for their courage, resilience, and dedication in facing very difficult conditions during the response. However, there is still a lot of work left to be done.

The top United Nations relief official called on the global community to support efforts to provide access to those in need throughout Ukraine, including the four million individuals residing in regions controlled by the Russian military.

The speaker stated that the people of Ukraine require collaborative efforts to put an end to the ongoing war, which has resulted in constant loss of life, destruction, and agony.

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