The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHCR) reports there have been at least 240 civilian casualties – including at least 64 deaths – in the country so far, adding that damage to homes and critical infrastructure has left hundreds of people without access to water and electricity.
Targets have included schools, hospitals, and an orphanage.
The UN also said over 160,000 Ukrainians are now internally displaced and trying to flee across international borders.
Ukraine’s government estimates the Russian invasion may leave behind as many as five million refugees.
This military action clearly violates international law and puts at risk countless civilian lives. It must be immediately halted. States that fail to take all reasonable measures to settle their international disputes by peaceful means fall short of complying with their obligation to protect the right to life. The protection of the civilian population must be a priority. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas should – at all costs – be avoided.
High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet called for full respect for international humanitarian law, in particular the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their first additional protocol of 1977, as well as international human rights law.
In the conduct of hostilities, the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions must be fully respected, in particular by taking all required measures to protect the civilian population and civilian objects from the effects of the hostilities.
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