Terrified Displaced Ukrainians Detail Russian Attacks


Testimonies gathered by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) highlight the terrifying impact on civilians of the recent escalation in hostilities in the north-east of the country, where Russian armed forces have seized control of several villages.

People who have fled from these areas along the Kharkiv region frontline described having to shelter for days in cold, dark basements, with no electricity amid intense aerial bombardment, strikes by drones and missiles, and artillery shelling.

There has been massive destruction of people's homes and other civilian infrastructure. Entire communities have been uprooted and destroyed, with more than 10,000 people displaced to date.

According to HRMMU, at least 35 civilians have been killed and 137 injured in the Kharkiv region since Russian armed forces launched their cross-border offensive on 10 May. Of those killed or injured in the northern part of the region, which has seen the heaviest fighting, more than half were over the age of 60. This reflects the disproportionate number of older people in border and frontline areas, who, in many cases, were either unable or unwilling to leave their homes even amid a fast-deteriorating security situation.

Since 10 May, our HRMMU teams have interviewed 90 displaced civilians and have visited several sites that were struck.

Some were unable to reach shelters or even get to a basement. People described seeing their neighbours killed or injured. Some said the situation was so bad they decided to risk walking for several kilometres to reach an evacuation point.

Local authorities and volunteers have taken major risks to help vulnerable people to get to safety. On 16 May, two medical workers, two ambulance drivers and a local official were injured while they were trying to get civilians out of the village of Buhaivka.

On the morning of 19 May, Russian armed forces struck a recreation centre in the village of Cherkaska Lozova near Kharkiv city. Less than 20 minutes later, the site was hit again when police and medical workers were already on the scene to assist the victims. HRMMU monitors visited the location and documented the deaths of at least six civilians, with dozens of people injured.

Many of those evacuated from Vovchansk and other areas have arrived in Kharkiv city, which also remains under attack. In Kharkiv, there were multiple missile strikes on Thursday, reportedly killing seven civilians and injuring 21 others.

We call again on the Russian Federation to strictly respect all the rules of international law relating to the conduct of hostilities, and to cease its attacks on Ukraine immediately.

In the third year of the Russian Federation's full-scale armed attack on Ukraine, with no end in sight, lives, homes, and futures continue to be destroyed. The long-term impact of this war in Ukraine will be felt for generations, with the task of rebuilding shattered communities, already a massive undertaking, growing larger with every further day of violence and destruction.

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