In Ukraine, Civilian Casualties Soar Amid Russian Attacks, Reversing a Downward Trend the UN Says
16 January 2024
Kyiv, 16 January 2024 – The past weeks saw a steep increase in civilian casualties as the Russian Federation intensified missile and drone attacks across Ukraine, the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) said today. In the course of just 10 days between 29 December 2023 and 8 January, hundreds of civilians were killed or wounded in drone and missile attacks across the country, HRMMU said.
In a report released today, HRMMU notes a 26 per cent increase in verified civilian casualties in December compared with November, in an alarming reversal of a downward trend in casualties observed earlier in 2023. The actual increase is likely higher as some casualty reports are yet to be verified. The high number of civilian casualties observed in December continued into the first days of January. HRMMU said it was verifying reports of 86 killed and 416 injured.
"Civilian casualties had been steadily decreasing in 2023 but the wave of attacks in late December and early January violently interrupted that trend,” said Danielle Bell who heads the UN’s monitoring mission.
“These attacks sow death and destruction on Ukraine’s civilians who have endured profound losses from Russia’s full-scale invasion for almost two years now,” she added.
The recent wave of attacks started on 29 December with missiles and drones hitting populated areas across Ukraine. While the most extensive attacks and the highest numbers of civilian casualties happened on that day and on 2 January, missile and drone attacks killed civilians across the country also on other days.
On 6 January, for example, a Russian missile attack on the small town of Pokrovsk and nearby Rivne village, located a relatively short distance from the frontline, left two families – six adults and five children – buried in the rubble when their homes were struck. Despite a days-long rescue and recovery effort, some of the bodies are still missing. In a separate attack just two days later in Novomoskovsk, the blast wave from a Russian missile strike injured 31 civilians, including eight passengers of a minibus which was destroyed during the morning commute.
The recent attacks came as temperatures across Ukraine dropped sharply with the arrival of extremely cold weather, making the already difficult situation even harder for vulnerable civilians. In Dnipro, an 81-year-old woman whose apartment was shattered by a Russian drone attack on 6 January told HRMMU she did not know how she would now survive the winter.