shelling in Ukraine

Ihor Mazhayev--who lost his wife and 12-year-old daughter as a result of Russian shelling--stands by his destroyed house on March 5, 2022 in Markhalivka, Ukraine. (Photo Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images)

Ukraine Civilian Death Toll Likely 'Considerably Higher' Than 351 Confirmed: UN

The new figures, including at least 707 injured, came as a cease-fire for evacuations fell apart, with Ukrainian officials accusing Russian forces of violating the deal.

Ten days into Russia's war on Ukraine, United Nations monitors announced Saturday that at least 351 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and another 707 injured--though the actual figures for both are likely much higher.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said it believes that "the real figures are considerably higher, especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intensive hostilities have been going on was delayed and many reports were still pending corroboration."

"This concerns, for example, the town of Volnovakha where hundreds of civilian casualties have been alleged," the office said. "These figures are being further corroborated and are not included."

The Associated Press noted that "Ukraine's State Emergency Service has said more than 2,000 civilians have died, though it's impossible to verify the claim."

OHCHR added that most confirmed civilian casualties since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the invasion on February 24 "were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes."

The International Criminal Court earlier this week launched an investigation into claims that Russian forces have committed war crimes, including by using cluster bombs and targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.

The U.N. casualty figures came as Ukrainian officials accused Russian forces of violating a cease-fire for evacuation routes out of the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha.

As the AP reports:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office later said the Russians were not holding to the cease-fire and continued firing on Mariupol and surrounding areas. Russia breached the deal in Volnovakha as well, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told reporters.

Russian outlet RIA Novosti carried a Russian Defense Ministry claim that the firing came from inside both communities against Russian positions.

Shelling began in Mariupol as thousands of people gathered to leave the city and buses were departing, said Mayor Vadym Boychenko, adding that "we value the life of every inhabitant of Mariupol and we cannot risk it, so we stopped the evacuation."

The Mariupol City Council similarly said on social media that "due to the fact that the Russian side does not adhere to the cease-fire and has continued shelling both of Mariupol itself and its environs and for security reasons, the evacuation of the civilian population has been postponed."

More than 1.3 million Ukrainians have fled the country since the Russian invasion, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

Anti-war protests are planned around the world for Saturday and Sunday.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.