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UN: 26.5% surge in Ukraine civilian casualties in December due to intensified Russian air attacks

UN report links the increase in civilian casualties to escalated missile attacks by Russian armed forces, with 592 Ukrainian civilians killed and injured in December.
Kyiv Russian missile strike
Kyiv apartment building on fire after the Russian missile attack on 2 December. Photo: TG Trukha Kyiv
UN: 26.5% surge in Ukraine civilian casualties in December due to intensified Russian air attacks

The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine verified that at least 592 civilians were killed or injured in Ukraine in December 2023, which constitutes a 26.5% increase compared to the previous month, mostly due to intensified Russian air attacks.

The report comes after Russia’s largest-yet aerial attack on Ukraine on 29 December 2023, in which Russia launched 160 missiles and drones in an attempt to overwhelm Ukraine’s air defenses amid ongoing concerns over its shortage of anti-air ammunition.

“The number of reported civilian casualties, some of which are still pending verification, suggest that the increase was even higher. The increase in civilian casualties in December breaks a trend of decreasing numbers of civilian casualties in 2023,” the report published by Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reads.

The report attributes the rise in civilian casualties in December primarily to escalated missile and loitering munitions attacks by Russian armed forces on December 29 and 30 across Ukraine. Such attacks accounted for 34% of civilian casualties in December, up from 16% in November. The majority of civilian casualties (84%) and damage to educational and health facilities (92%) persisted in areas under government control.

The report mentions two significant incidents:

  • On 29 December, massive missile attacks targeted Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Odesa, Lviv, as well as other towns and villages in Dnipropetrovsk, Sumy, Cherkasy and Kyiv oblasts. At least 21 civilians were killed (11 men and 10 women) and 85 injured (51 men, 29 women, three boys, and two girls) in the attacks.
  • On 30 December, a missile strike in Kharkiv injured 26 civilians (13 women, 11 men and two boys). A supermarket, a small shopping center, a barber shop, several stores, a coffee place, and at least five residential buildings were damaged.

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