The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ office said on Friday it wanted to send a team to Izyum to verify Ukrainian allegations that a mass grave had been found after recapturing the city from Russia.
“Our colleagues in Ukraine are following up on these allegations, and they are aiming at organising a monitoring visit to Izyum to determine the circumstances of the death of these individuals,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell said.
She added that the team was hoping to visit the northeastern city “soon”.
Ukraine said on Friday it had counted 450 graves at just one burial site near Izyum, which was seized back by Ukrainian forces during a lightning counter-offensive across the south and east that has claimed back large swathes of territory.
AFP journalists on the scene said on Friday that hundreds of graves topped with white crosses and marked with numbers are located in forests outside the recaptured city.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday blamed Russian forces for what he said was a “mass grave” discovered in the area.
Throssell described the reports as “shocking”, adding the UN team would be looking to ascertain whether those who died were civilians or military personnel, and the cause of any of the deaths.
“It’s important that the circumstances of the deaths of the people who may be in these collective graves be established,” she said.
Russia has been accused of carrying out attacks on civilians that amount to possible war crimes, particularly in towns outside the capital Kyiv.
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