U.N. Human Rights Team in Ukraine’s head said Friday that monitors have received more information on mass graves in Mariupol, a besieged port city. One of these graves appeared to contain 200 bodies.
Matilda Bogner, a journalist from Ukraine, told journalists via video link that she had more information about mass graves. Some of the evidence was derived from satellite images.
Since Russia invaded the country on February 24, 2017, approximately 50 U.N. staff members have counted 1,035 civilian casualties.
Bogner stated that verification problems meant that the toll did not include “very few” Mariupol residents, who have been under heavy bombardment for several weeks.
She stated that “the scale of civilian casualties and destruction of civilian objects strongly suggests the violation of the principles of distinction and of proportionality, as well as the rule on feasible precautions, and the prohibition against indiscriminate attack,”
A Reuters journalist reached a section of Mariupol that was held by Russian forces Sunday and saw many bodies along the road and a group digging graves in a patch on the roadside.
Bogner’s team is investigating alleged human rights violations such as reports that Russian forces shot and killed civilians as they fled in their cars. There are also dozens of cases where journalists and officials from Ukraine have disappeared.
Russia has denied that it targeted civilians in Ukraine, despite calling its actions since February 24 a “special operations”. Russian news agencies reported that buses transported several hundred people Moscow called “refugees”, from Mariupol to Russia.
Bogdan stated that her team has also received reports from Ukrainian forces of violations, including indiscriminate bombardment in Donetsk (East Ukraine) and two alleged deaths of civilians as a result of their support for Russia.
Ukrainian authorities repeatedly claimed that they have not targeted civilians and that those who are present in Donetsk or Luhansk are Ukrainians.