UN's Ukraine death count now above 2,000, but real toll much higher as refugees near 5M

Human Rights Office says many casualty reports are delayed from areas where hostilities with Russian forces are ongoing.

UN's Ukraine death count now above 2,000, but real toll much higher as refugees near 5M

The UN said Tuesday that the civilian death toll in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war reached 2,072, but is estimated to be much higher, while the number of people that have fled the country neared 5 million.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that since Feb. 24, it had recorded 4,890 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 2,072 killed and 2,818 injured.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency said 4,934,415 people have fled Ukraine and that over 7 million more are internally displaced since the start of the war.

The UN death toll includes 71 children, but the OHCHR also noted the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine report, according to which 205 children had been killed and at least 362 injured.

The UN office also shared a report by Ukraine's interior minister, who said that as of April 15, at least 2,700 civilians had been killed.

"OHCHR notes the caveat made by the minister who stressed that this figure concerns only those civilian deaths on which criminal proceedings had been initiated, and where forensic expertise of dead bodies had been carried out," said the UN.

According to the Ukrainian government, more than 1,000 academic institutions have been damaged and 95 destroyed.

Explosive weapons

Most civilian casualties were caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems and missiles and airstrikes.

"OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed, and many reports are still pending corroboration," said the rights office.

It cited, for example, Mariupol in the Donetsk region, which has been under siege for weeks, Izium in the northeast Kharkiv region, Popasna in the Luhansk region, and Borodyanka in the capital Kyiv region.

The UN said that in those locations, there "are allegations of numerous civilian casualties," while those figures are not included in the reported statistics.

The UN also said that since Feb. 24, the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, established in 2014, has been unable to visit places of incidents and interview victims and witnesses there.

Hüseyin Demir