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Ukraine: UN rights office deplores attack in Russian-occupied Donetsk

Meanwhile, in New York, the Security Council met once again to discuss the war stemming from Russia’s invasion that will mark its bloody two-year anniversary next month.

At least 27 civilians were reportedly killed and a further 25 injured in the Donetsk attacks that struck local markets and a nearby residential area in the city, according to media reports.

OHCHR is trying to obtain more information about the attack, despite its lack of access to the city and other occupied areas in Ukraine, spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement on Monday.

“It is crucial that thorough, prompt and independent investigations be carried out to determine the facts and responsibility for this attack,” she said.

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“The investigation should establish whether this attack violated applicable law on the conduct of hostilities, with a view to ensuring accountability.”

Ms. Shamdasani also stressed the need to ensure strict respect for international humanitarian law and for the parties to the conflict to take all necessary precautions to protect civilians from harm.

‘Unambiguous obligation’

Addressing the Security Council on Monday morning in New York, Adedeji Ebo, Deputy UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, reiterated the “duty” of warring sides to protect civilians.

“This is an unambiguous obligation,” he said, briefing ambassadors.

“Let me say it again: attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited under international law. All such attacks must stop immediately.”

As of Sunday, OHCHR has verified 10,287 civilians killed and a further 19,444 injured since Russia’s full-scale invasion began on 24 February 2022. The actual figures are likely far higher.

Prevent further escalation

Mr. Ebo said continued attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure were seriously distressing, adding that the use of aerial drones and missiles had resulted in many deaths and injuries.

“Just like any other weapons or weapons systems, armed uncrewed aerial vehicles and missiles must not be used in a manner inconsistent with international humanitarian law,” he said.

He reiterated the UN Secretary-General’s call on all States to help to prevent further escalation and bring about sustainable peace.  

“The only way to end the suffering and devastation is by ending this war,” Mr. Ebo said.

Adedeji Ebo of the UN Offie for Disarmanent Affairs (UNODA) briefs the Security Council.

Council meeting a distraction: Ukraine

Ahead of the meeting, Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukrainian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, criticized Russia for calling for “yet another UN Security Council meeting to criticize lawful arms transfers to Ukraine that are done in support of Ukraine’s inherent right of self-defence”.

“This meeting today is another attempt by the Russian Federation to distract from its war of aggression against Ukraine and its intensified campaign of systematic air strikes killing civilians and destroying critical infrastructure,” he said at a press stakeout, standing alongside dozens of ambassadors and representatives of other nations and the European Union.

Western support impedes peace: Russia

At the Security Council, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “the absolute majority of unbiased experts” see clearly that the key factor impeding the peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis “is the continued support on the part of the west to the regime in Kyiv”.

This is “despite the fact that it is obviously in agony, and it is incapable of attaining the goal set to it, namely to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia,” he said.

He added that the reality is that “despite the complete failure” of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the battlefield, “western patrons of the Kyiv regime” continue to push them towards a senseless military confrontation.

A maternity care facility in Dnipro severely damaged in air strikes. (file)
© UNOCHA/Oleksii Holenkov

A maternity care facility in Dnipro severely damaged in air strikes. (file)

Grim humanitarian situation

The war continues to inflict “immeasurable human suffering” and is putting millions at risk of serious violations and generating grave humanitarian needs, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Millions across Ukraine have been forced from their homes, including nearly six million living as refugees outside its borders.  

Prolonged displacement has pushed many to the brink.  

In 2024, 14.6 million people – about 40 per cent of the Ukrainian population – require humanitarian assistance.  

UN agencies and partners aim to reach 8.5 million people with aid, focusing on the most severe needs and prioritizing communities on the frontline and in neighbouring areas.

Children rights

Meanwhile in Geneva, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, a body of 18 independent experts monitoring implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its States parties, is discussing the treatment and conditions facing children in Russia, including the fate of Ukrainian children allegedly deported to Russia during the course of the conflict.  

On Monday and Tuesday, the Committee will hold discussions with government representatives as well as review reports and submissions made by Russia and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Alongside Russia, the Committee will also review the situations in the Congo, Bulgaria, Senegal, Lithuania and South Africa at its ongoing session, which concludes next week.

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