UN Report Tallies 'Dire' Human Cost of Russia-Ukraine War
In a report issued on Friday, the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said the situation for both civilians and combatants as a result of the armed conflict in Ukraine "remains dire"
- In a report issued on Friday, the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said the situation for both civilians and combatants as a result of the armed conflict in Ukraine "remains dire" — adding it has "verified numerous allegations of arbitrary deprivation of life, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment, and conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV)."1
- During the period from Aug. 1, 2022, to Jan. 31, 2023, OHCHR said it documented 1,605 civilian deaths and 4,382 civilian injuries. However, it warned that real numbers are likely to be considerably higher, given the figures only reflect what they were able to verify.2
- In alleged violations committed by Russia's armed forces, OHCHR said it documented 21 civilian deaths through attacks and summary executions, 214 cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions of civilians and 10 of members of the media or human rights organizations, and 133 cases of CRSV between February 2022 and January 2023.2
- In violations allegedly committed by Ukraine's armed forces, OHCHR didn't give a figure for civilians executed but said it was concerned over "reports of dozens of killings of civilians perceived as so-called 'traitors' against Ukraine for their alleged collaboration with the Russian Federation." It documented 91 cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions and claimed that 88 Russian sailors who entered Ukraine before the war were arbitrarily detained. It documented 24 cases of CRSV.2
- Meanwhile, the OHCHR on Friday issued a separate report on the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) between February 2022 and February 2023. According to OHCHR, 15 Ukrainian POWs were summarily executed, while 55 were subject to torture and other forms of ill-treatment. There were 25 documented cases of Russian POWs being summarily executed, while 113 were tortured or subject to other forms of ill-treatment.3
- However, the OHCHR warned that these numbers shouldn't be compared to one another, saying it was given more access to Ukraine's POWs while Russia was largely unwilling to cooperate.3
Sources: 1UN News, 2OHCHR (a), and 3OHCHR (b).
- Anti-Russia narrative, as provided by Ukrainska Pravda. While the importance of the OHCHR's work cannot be overstated, it must take care not to place the same responsibility on Ukraine as Russia, which is ultimately responsible for starting this illegal war. Ukraine's actions constitute self-defense and shouldn't be likened to those of the aggressor.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by TASS. These reports are a step in the right direction to hold those responsible for alleged human rights abuses to account, however, they fail to recognize the West's role in these atrocities. By providing assistance to Ukraine, NATO has enabled mercenaries to partake in the atrocities outlined in the reports and is, thus, an accomplice to Kyiv's war crimes.
- Narrative C, as provided by UN News. Both Russia and Ukraine have committed horrible atrocities throughout the conflict, demonstrating how war inflicts a tragically high cost on human life. Both sides must be held accountable for not respecting international humanitarian law, and work to bring this conflict to a close.