Press Release

Extensive Civilian Harm from Russian Attacks This Spring

03 July 2024

KYIV/GENEVA (3 July 2024) – The increase in attacks by Russian armed forces during March, April, and May caused extensive civilian casualties and significant damage to civilian property and infrastructure, according to a new report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) prepared by the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU).

The report details the human rights situation in Ukraine between 1 March and 31 May 2024, illustrating the compounded difficulties civilians face, ranging from immediate physical harm to long-term socio-economic challenges.

It highlights the human rights impact of the Russian armed forces’ renewed large-scale attacks on critical energy infrastructure starting in March, their ground offensive into the Kharkiv region in May, and other developments in both occupied territory and in the Government-controlled areas of Ukraine.

“With May having the highest monthly number of civilian casualties in nearly a year,fighting this spring took a horrific toll on civilians, particularly in Kharkiv region and city” said Danielle Bell, the Head of HRMMU. “The relentless attacks resulted in tragic loss of life, displacement, and destruction of homes and businesses.”

Among the main reasons for the extensive civilian harm, HRMMU identified the use of powerful air-dropped bombs and missiles in populated areas and at least five instances of successive attacks on the same location within a short interval (sometimes referred to as “double-tap” attacks), which caused numerous casualties among first responders.

During the reporting period, Russian armed forces launched their largest campaign of attacks against critical energy infrastructure since the winter of 2022-2023, killing and injuring civilians, and affecting millions of people across the country.

“Five waves of attacks against energy infrastructure resulted in civilian casualties and significant power cuts for millions of people across the country, with cascading effects on water supply, mobile and internet connectivity, and public transportation,” said Bell. “The full impact of the attacks on energy infrastructure will only be clear this upcoming winter when the reduced power-generating capacity of Ukraine could leave many without access to heating and other services necessary for their survival,” she added.

In territory controlled by the Government of Ukraine, HRMMU documented continued prosecution of people on charges of “collaboration activities” for actions that, in principle, could be lawfully compelled by the occupying Power. However, during the reporting period, the Government took steps to improve compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law in this respect.

In occupied territory, residents faced further pressure from the occupying authorities to obtain Russian citizenship, which they needed to access medical services and maintain their property rights. Family members of Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilian detainees described to HRMMU the anxiety and suffering caused by the lack of information about their loved ones as the Russian Federation continued to deny those detained regular communication with the outside world. Additionally, a new law in the Russian Federation further entrenched impunity for violations committed by its armed forces.

The report will be presented to the Human Rights Council on 9 July at 10:00.

 Krzysztof Janowski

Krzysztof Janowski


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