Press conference notes on Ukraine March 8
The High Commissioner presented her comprehensive update to the Council this morning, in which she reiterated her urgent call for a peaceful end to hostilities in Ukraine and called on all parties to the conflict to take effective measures to enable civilians caught in the trap in areas affected by active hostilities to leave safely.
To date, we have recorded at least 1,207 civilian casualties since the start of the latest armed conflict on February 24, including 406 people killed and 801 injured. However, we believe the exact numbers are likely much higher as ongoing hostilities have hampered our ability to verify possible cases in many parts of the country.
Most civilian casualties are due to airstrikes and explosive weapons used by Russian forces with widespread effects, including heavy artillery and multiple rocket launcher systems. As a result, hundreds of residential buildings in many cities including Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mariupol and Kyiv were damaged and destroyed.
We are alarmed by numerous reports of actual threats and harm against journalists. On March 1, a journalist was killed in the attack on the TV tower in Kiev, and CNNTurk reported that one of his vehicles was hit by gunfire, but luckily their journalist and cameraman inside the vehicle were not injured.
We are also concerned about reports of arbitrary detentions of people perceived to be pro-Ukrainian in areas recently taken over by armed groups in the east and reports of violence against people perceived to be pro-Russian in the territories controlled by the Ukrainian government.
Across the Russian border, some 12,700 people have been arbitrarily arrested for staging peaceful protests against the war, and new amendments to the criminal code introduce heavy fines and prison terms of up to 15 years for having disseminated information deemed false by the authorities or discredited the Russian army. forces. We are concerned about this, as well as other overbroad and repressive laws that restrict freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, and impede the free enjoyment of other civil and political rights.