More than 10,000 civilians killed in Ukraine since Russia invasion, UN says

UN: Half the fatalities in past three months due to Russia’s use of long-range missiles, abandoned ordinance blasts.

Anail Matsyk, 24, lights candles near a memorial for the victims of a Russian rocket attack in the village of Hroza near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on October 8, 2023 [Alex Babenko/AP]Published On 21 Nov 202321 Nov 2023

More than 10,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion last year, the United Nations says, with about half of the deaths in the past three months taking place far behind the front lines.

The actual toll is expected to be “significantly higher” than the official tally since corroboration work is ongoing, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said on Tuesday.

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More than 560 children have been killed, and more than 18,500 people have been injured since the start of the conflict on February 24, 2022, said the mission, which has monitors across the country.

The UN attributed the recent deaths far beyond the front lines to Russian forces’ use of long-range missiles and the explosion of abandoned ordinance.

“As a result, no place in Ukraine is completely safe,” warned Danielle Bell, who heads the monitoring mission.

The death toll includes events in the first months after the invasion, such as the battle for control of the port of Mariupol, where residents reported high civilian casualties.

Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians.

“Ten thousand civilian deaths is a grim milestone for Ukraine,” Bell said.

Russia’s war against Ukraine “now entering into its 21st month, risks evolving into a protracted conflict with the severe human cost being painful to fathom”, she said.

The vast majority of the deaths have been caused by explosive weapons with a wide-area impact, such as shells, missiles and cluster munitions, the UN said.

Representatives from several of Ukraine’s allies were in the capital, Kyiv, on Tuesday in a show of solidarity as the country marked 10 years since the beginning of mass protests that toppled a Russia-backed president and set the country on a pro-Western course.

Nearly 100 civilians died in clashes with security forces when Ukrainians took to the streets of Kyiv in 2013, demanding to move Ukraine out of the orbit of Vladimir Putin’s Russia and into that of the European democracies.

European Council President Charles Michel posted on X: “Good to be back in Kyiv – among friends.”

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius pledged further German military aid worth 1.3 billion euros ($1.4bn) on Tuesday.

“I am here again, firstly to pledge further support but also to express our solidarity and deep bond and also our admiration for the courageous, brave and costly fight that is being waged here,” he said laying flowers at Independence Square, also called the Maidan, in central Kyiv, where the 2013 protests were centred.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday, where he unveiled a new military aid package for Ukraine worth $100m, which includes anti-tank weapons, air-defence interceptors and an additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies