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Human rights in Ukraine still ‘dire’ amid wide-ranging violations: OHCHR

“The international armed conflict has led to a wide range of human rights violations affecting both civilians and combatants”, the executive summary states, adding that the Office has “verified numerous allegations of arbitrary deprivation of life, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment, and conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV).”

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During the reporting period, a total of 5,987 civilian casualties were recorded, with 1,605 persons killed and 4,382 persons injured. Casualty numbers are likely far higher, as they only include verified incidents.

 A large number of civilian casualties resulted from attacks involving explosive weapons with wide area effects.

“The war has taken a heavy toll on civilians, with acts of hostilities killing groups of individuals and in some cases multiple members of the same families at once”, the summary states.

Hitting the energy grid

Since October 2022, Russian strikes targeting critical energy infrastructure have killed at least 116 civilians and injured at least 379. Significant electricity shortages have followed, creating serious challenges for civiliansd through the cold winter months.

Infrastructure and housing have been heavily impacted too, with damage or destruction caused to 107 medical facilities and 179 educational buildings during the reporting period.

The right to security, health, work, education, housing, social support and services for persons with disabilities, and freedom of religion or belief, have also been infringed, according to the OHCHR report.

Summary executions

Some 21 civilians were killed during the reporting period by Russian armed forces, “both through summary executions and attacks on individual civilians.”

There were 214 documented cases (185 men, 24 women and 5 boys) of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions of civilians in territory of Ukraine that was or remains Russian occupied.

“Russian armed forces arrested victims in their homes, workplaces, in the street ,or at check points during so-called ‘filtration’ processes. OHCHR documented 10 cases (7 men, 3 women) of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions of media workers and human rights defenders” inside occupied territory.

A mother holds her child in their apartment, in a partially destroyed high-rise building in eastern Ukraine.
© UNICEF/Aleksey Filippov

A mother holds her child in their apartment, in a partially destroyed high-rise building in eastern Ukraine.

Children disappeared

OHCHR said they were gravely concerned about the arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and torture or other ill-treatment of children by Russian armed forces. During the reporting period, the rights office documented the enforced disappearances of five boys between 14 and 17 years old.

“The children were all subjected to torture or other ill-treatment, and, in one case, the victim was deported to Belarus”, said the report.

35th Report on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine
Source: OHCHR

35th Report on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine

Sexual violence

From February 2022 to 31 January this year, OHCHR documented 133 cases of sexual violence related to the fighting (85 men, 45 women, 3 girls), the majority of which took place in territory occupied by Russia.

There are 109 cases attributable to Russian armed forces or Russian law enforcement and penitentiary staff, the report states.

During the reporting period, OHCHR documented three cases of rape against women in small communities where Russian armed forces were stationed.

OHCHR also documented transfers of civilians to areas in occupied territory or across the border into Russia, “some of which may amount to forced transfers or deportations.”

Rights violations in Ukrainian Government territory

Within parts of Ukraine controlled by the Government in Kyiv, OHCHR documented 91 cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions (79 men, 12 women) committed by Ukrainian armed forces and law enforcement agencies.

Most detainees were arrested for suspicion of collaborating with, or helping in some way, Russian armed forces. OHCHR reported it had documented the arbitrary detention of 88 Russian civilian sailors who legally entered Ukraine before the start of the invasion last year, but were not thereafter allowed to disembark from their ships in the Odesa region.

Since 24 February last year, OHCHR has documented 24 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, in territory controlled by the Government of Ukraine. All cases occurred between March and July last year. “They mostly affected men and consisted predominantly of threats of sexual violence during the initial stages of detention”, said the report.

Hundreds of billions lost

In a new assessment of the damage caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, the UN, World Bank, European Union and Ukrainian Government launched their second report and needs assessment on Thursday.

It shows that after a full year of fighting, direct damage to infrastructure and people’s lives is calculated at more than $135 billion and social and economic losses amount to $290 billion.

Housing, energy and the social sector are priorities for recovery and reconstruction, the assessment outlines, as well as addressing the damage and losses incurred in the agricultural sector, which alone is estimated at $40 billion.

Around 80 per cent of this amount is related to productive loss in the agricultural sector and caused by destroyed equipment and mined farming land.  

In her statement to the reports launch, @UNHumanRightsUA Head Matilda Bogner told about horrendous human cost, violence & ill-treatment of POWs in the context of the armed attack by the Russia against Ukraine. https://t.co/BfCLQ23sye

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