Ukraine

Conflict-related civilian casualties in Ukraine, March 2020

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From 1 to 31 March 2020, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 19 conflict-related civilian casualties: two killed (one man and one woman) and 17 injured (eight women, six men, two girls and one boy), a 280 per cent increase compared with February 2020 (one killed and four injured). This was more than the total for January and February 2020 (two killed and 15 injured), and the highest monthly figure since September 2019 (two killed and 22 injured).

Causes of casualties were as follows:

  • Shelling and SALW [2] fire: one man and one woman were killed, and five men, four women, one boy and one girl were injured by shelling and SALW fire in territory controlled by self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk people’s republic’, and two women and one man were injured in Government-controlled territory of Donetsk region;
  • Mine-related incidents [3] and ERW handling [4]: two women and one man were injured as a result of mine-related incidents in territory controlled by self-proclaimed ‘Luhansk people’s republic’.

In March 2020, all civilian casualties resulting from shelling and SALW fire were recorded in Donetsk region (in January and February 2020, virtually all such casualties were recorded in Luhansk region). Of them: two were killed and 11 were injured in territory controlled by self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk people’s republic’, and three civilians were injured in Government-controlled territory of Donetsk region.

The majority of civilian casualties resulting from shelling and SALW fire were recorded in three areas: Horlivka and Zaitseve; the western parts of Donetsk and settlements to the west (Krasnohorivka, Marinka, Oleksandrivka, Staromykhailivka and Syhnalne); and Dokuchaievsk.

Trends in 2020

Civilian casualties from 1 January to 31 March 2020, per type of weapon/incident

In the first quarter of 2020, average monthly civilian casualties were 13.7 per cent lower than average monthly civilian casualties in 2019 (12 and 13.9 on average per month, respectively). However, compared with the last quarter of 2019, average monthly civilian casualties were worse in the first quarter of 2020, having increased by 47.3 per cent (6.3 and 12 on average per month, respectively).

While in January and February 2020, civilian casualties resulting from shelling and SALW fire (which are most indicative in terms of lack of compliance with international humanitarian law and protection of civilians in armed conflict) remained at the lowest levels for the entire conflict period, there was a considerable spike in such casualties in March (two killed and 14 injured). This was almost equal to the total number of such casualties over the preceding five months, from 1 October 2019 to 29 February 2020 (one killed and 15 injured).

During the last six months, from 1 October 2019 to 31 March 2020, 84.4 per cent of civilian casualties resulting from shelling and SALW fire were recorded in territory controlled by the self-proclaimed ‘republics’ (27: two killed and 25 injured), and 15.6 percent (five: one killed and four injured) in Government-controlled territory.

In the first quarter of 2020, average civilian casualties resulting from mine-related incidents and ERW handling were comparable with those of 2019 (five on average per month), but were 66 per cent higher than in the last quarter of 2019 (three on average per month).

_Civilian casualties caused by mines and ERW, __from 14 April 2014 to 31 March 2020 [5]._

Total conflict-related civilian casualties

During the entire conflict period, from 14 April 2014 to 31 March 2020, OHCHR recorded in total 3,055 conflict-related civilian deaths (1,814 men, 1,057 women, 98 boys, 49 girls and 37 adults whose sex is unknown). Taking into account 298 deaths on board of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July 2014, the total death toll of the conflict on civilians has reached at least 3,353. The number of injured civilians is estimated to exceed 7,000.

[1] OHCHR documents civilian casualties by consulting a broad range of sources and types of information, which are evaluated for credibility and reliability. This update is based on information that the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) collected through interviews with victims and their relatives; witnesses; analysis of corroborating material confidentially shared with HRMMU; official records; open-source documents, photo and video materials; forensic records and reports; criminal investigation materials; court documents; public reports of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine; reports by international and national non-governmental organisations; public reports by law enforcement and military actors; data from medical facilities and local authorities; and other relevant and credible material. In some instances, corroboration may take weeks or months before conclusions can be drawn. This may mean that conclusions on civilian casualties may be revised as more information becomes available and numbers may change as new information emerges over time.

[2] Small arms and light weapons.

[3] Incidents in which civilians were killed or injured by mines (antipersonnel or anti-vehicle) or explosive devices triggered in the same way, such as booby traps, or by ERW (explosive remnants of war) that are inadvertently detonated by unsuspecting civilians.

[4] Victims of ERW handling manipulate with an ERW for a certain period of time and take additional efforts to make it detonate (for instance, by trying to dismantle it), or were near those, who manipulated an ERW.

[5] Data is incomplete, mostly for 2014 and 2015.