UN rights chief Volker Turk on Friday, Feb.24, condemned the human cost of Russia's "senseless" year-old war in Ukraine and urged greater efforts to ensure justice for victims.

Turk said the civilian toll was "unbearable", with at least 8,006 civilians killed and 13,287 wounded up to February 15, according to confirmed figures from his office. The true casualty figures are much higher, he said.

Attempts to get justice for international law violations have to intensify, said the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"As we mark one year since Russia's war against Ukraine began, I deplore the terrible human cost of this senseless conflict," Turk said in a video statement.

"The toll on civilians is unbearable. Nearly 18 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

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"Efforts to establish accountability and justice for violations of international law must intensify and deepen," he added.

"It is equally vital that victims can access reparations and the practical assistance they desperately need, without first having to wait for the outcomes of formal legal proceedings."

Ukraine's ambassador in Geneva welcomed efforts towards setting up a special tribunal to try those responsible for the invasion.

Accountability means justice, the prevention of further human rights violations, and peace, Yevheniia Filipenko told reporters.

"It has been a year of sheer terror, pain and suffering for millions of Ukrainians," she said.

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"We are fighting for our lives; our homes; our children. We don't know what the Russians are fighting for."

- Eight million refugees -

The Hague-based International Criminal Court launched an investigation in February into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

But it cannot prosecute aggression concerning non-member states, and neither Russia nor Ukraine are members.

The subject will be discussed in March in Geneva on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council, Filipenko said.

Turk said the higher food and fuel costs the war had generated had "deepened misery on a global scale", which "must end now".

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According to the UN Human Rights Office's monitoring mission in Ukraine, 61.1 percent of adult civilian casualties were men, where the sex of the victims were known.

At least 487 children have been killed and 954 injured.

Of the civilian casualties, 90.3 percent were caused by explosive weapons, most of them in populated areas.

The office has also recorded 219 civilians killed and 413 injured by mines and explosive remnants of war.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said more than 13 million people were still unable to return to their homes.

Of that number, nearly eight million refugees were spread across Europe and more than five million internally displaced people within Ukraine.

"Their prospects for return in the near future, however, are clouded by continued hostilities, insecurity and destruction in their home regions," the agency said.

 

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