Civilian casualties in Ukraine since the beginning of the war are approaching 18,000, figures released by the United Nations on Wednesday showed.
From the day Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 to 26 December 2022, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has counted the death of 6,884 civilians, and 10,947 injured – equating to a total of 17,831 victims. Among the dead, there are 429 children.
The UN is estimating the number to be considerably higher, as information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.
There are allegations of numerous civilian casualties in Mariupol (Donetsk region), Izium (Kharkiv region), Lysychansk, Popasna, and Sievierodonetsk (Luhansk region).
"Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects, including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles and air strikes," stated the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
Out of the civilians killed, 2,719 of those were men, and 1,832 were women. For the rest of the 1,904 adults, the UN says their "sex is yet unknown."
In the casualty figures for December alone, the UN counted 156 civilian deaths, and 516 injured. As many as 94% of these were caused by "explosive weapons with wide area effects," while 6% of these were from mines or remnants of war.
War crime investigations
In a previous report, the OHCHR noted the executions and attacks on civilians in the initial phase of the Russian military occupation of the Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions between 24 February and 6 April 2022.
In the three regions – located to the north and northwest of the capital – executions and attacks were confirmed in 102 villages and towns. "The acts in question were committed by Russian armed forces in control of these areas and led to the deaths of 441 civilians (341 men, 72 women, 20 boys and 8 girls)."
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In early April, the Russian army retreated from those three regions after several weeks of fighting with the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Shortly after the retreat, considerable amounts of bodies of dead civilians were discovered across the towns and villages of the three regions.
Many of these bodies "bore signs indicating that the victims may have been intentionally killed."