Tuesday, 14 May 2024 23:19

Security Council hears of relentless attacks against civilians and infrastructure in Ukraine

Escalating Russian attacks in northeast Ukraine have killed civilians, sparked further displacement and caused massive destruction to railways and other infrastructure, a senior official with the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, told the Security Council on Tuesday.

Lisa Doughten, OCHA’s director of financing and partnerships, said relentless hostilities continue along the border with Russia and on the frontline.

Following several waves of attacks, Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, was struck again that day, injuring 15 civilians, she reported.

Thousands evacuated

“These attacks have triggered yet more displacement from border and frontline communities. As of today, authorities report that over 7,000 civilians were evacuated from border areas of the Kharkiv region,” she said.


People in the Donetsk and Sumy regions, located in the east and north of the country, were also impacted by recent attacks.

Last month, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, recorded more than 700 civilian casualties across Ukraine, with 129 people killed and 574 injured, representing a significant increase for a second consecutive month.

Most casualties, 90 per cent, occurred in Ukrainian-controlled territory.

Infrastructure under attack

Ms. Doughten noted a trend of intensified attacks on civilian infrastructure.

Since 22 March, the UN and partners have seen five waves of attacks directed against energy infrastructure, and OHCHR recorded 50 such incidents in April alone, she said.

The attacks destroyed or damaged power generation plants and electricity substations.

“They have temporarily left millions of households across the country with no power, no water and no gas needed for cooking, heating, hygiene and other vital services,” she said.

She also voiced concern over what appears to be a new pattern of attacks on railway infrastructure in the east and south. OHCHR recorded 10 such incidents in government-controlled territory last month alone, which killed 16 civilians and injured 59 more.

“Also concerning are the attacks on factories and production plants, limiting the availability of locally procured humanitarian goods,” she said.

Meanwhile, continuing attacks on Ukraine’s port infrastructure threaten the export of grain and other agricultural commodities at a time when the number of people worldwide going hungry continues to rise.

“We are alarmed by reports of attacks damaging energy infrastructure and oil refineries in the Russian Federation. Such attacks risk enflaming the war further and worsening its humanitarian impacts,” she added.

UN Photo/Loey Felipe
Lisa Doughten, Director of the Financing and Partnerships Division of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), briefs the Security Council meeting on maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine.

Commitment to deliver

Despite the intensification in hostilities, and the enormous risks, “the UN and partners are doing everything we can to reach people in need of support,” she said.

By the end of March, they had provided 3.6 million people with some form of humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, a dozen inter-agency convoys brought vital supplies to 20,000 people in frontline areas, while local partners have been critical to conducting “last-mile delivery and distribution”.

Ms. Doughten said reaching civilians in Russian-occupied areas of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia remains another challenge.

“We are deeply concerned about the estimated 1.5 million people in need of lifesaving assistance in these areas,” she said.

She stressed that all parties must allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need, in line with international law.