- A UN human rights office called Russia’s war against Ukraine a “horror story of violations” against civilians.
- “International humanitarian law has not merely been ignored but seemingly tossed aside,” UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said.
- Thousands of civilians have been killed in Russian bombings targeting residential areas and shelters.
The United Nations human rights office on Friday described Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine as a “horror story of violations perpetrated against civilians.”
The organization said that Russia’s nearly two-month-long invasion of the Eastern European country has sparked a human rights and humanitarian crisis that has “devastated the lives of civilians throughout the country and beyond.”
“Over these eight weeks, international humanitarian law has not merely been ignored but seemingly tossed aside,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
Bachelet added: “Our work to date has detailed a horror story of violations perpetrated against civilians.”
“First and foremost, this senseless war must stop,” she said. “But as the fighting shows no sign of abating, it is vital that all parties to the conflict give clear instructions to their combatants to strictly respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched Russia’s war against Ukraine on February 24, Russian troops have surrounded and shelled several cities across the country, hitting multiple civilian targets, including hospitals and schools.
Those actions, the UN human rights office said, “may amount to war crimes.” The UN human rights office said on Friday that at least 2,345 civilians had been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded.
Western nations have already accused Russia of committing heinous atrocities and war crimes in Ukraine after gruesome scenes of dead civilians emerged out of the town of Bucha earlier this month.
“Almost every resident in Bucha our colleagues spoke to told us about the death of a relative, a neighbor, or even a stranger. We know much more needs to be done to uncover what happened there and we also know Bucha is not an isolated incident,” Bachelet said.
“We know the actual numbers are going to be much higher as the horrors inflicted in areas of intense fighting, such as Mariupol, come to light,” Bachelet said.
Local Ukrainian officials have said that at least 21,000 civilians have been killed by Russian forces in the city of Mariupol.
“The scale of summary executions of civilians in areas previously occupied by Russian forces are also emerging,” said Bachelet.
Additionally, the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has recorded at least 114 attacks on medical establishments in the country.
Bachelet said an estimated 3,000 civilians “have died because they couldn’t get medical care and because of the stress on their health amid the hostilities.”
There have also been increased allegations of sexual violence against women, men, girls and boys by members of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, the UN human rights office said.
The HRMMU has received 75 sexual violence allegations from across Ukraine with the majority of them coming from the capital of Kyiv — and the organization says it is investigating each accusation.
Also recorded by the HRMMU has been 155 cases of civilian detentions against local officials, journalists and activists.
“Some were reportedly tortured or ill-treated, left without food or water, or held in overcrowded improvised facilities. Five victims of enforced disappearances were subsequently found dead,” the UN human rights office said.