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Ukraine: Civilian attacks ‘must end immediately’ says UN, as search for Dnipro survivors continues

Destroyed Residential Building in Dnipro, Ukraine (file photo).
© WFP/Viktor Pesenti
Destroyed Residential Building in Dnipro, Ukraine (file photo).

Ukraine: Civilian attacks ‘must end immediately’ says UN, as search for Dnipro survivors continues

Peace and Security

The UN Secretary-General has strongly condemned Russia’s attack on a large residential building in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro at the weekend that has left at least 40 civilians dead, including three children, and at least 75 injured, with those figures likely to rise, according to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in the country.

Associate Spokesperson Stephanie Tremblay told Monday’s regular briefing for correspondents in New York that António Guterres had condemned Saturday evening’s missile strike adding that it was “another example of a suspected violation of the laws of war.”

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Violation of international law

In a statement issued later in the day, the Spokesperson reiterated that “attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, violate international humanitarian law. They must end immediately.”

The Ukraine office of UN aid coordination wing OCHA, described the strike on the nine-storey building in the central Ukrainian city as one of the deadliest attacks since Russia began its full-scale invasion on 24 February last year.

With many still unaccounted for, rescuers were still digging through the rubble looking for survivors on Monday, while dozens more civilians were killed or injured across the country over the weekend period, said OCHA.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, Denise Brown, condemned the immense civilian toll of the attack by Russia, calling for an effective investigation of suspected war crimes and appropriate prosecution of suspects.

1,000 now homeless

“More than 1,000 people have been made homeless as a result of the attack, according to our humanitarian colleagues on the ground”, said Ms. Tremblay.  

UN agencies and NGOs have acted quickly to support the families, she added, with UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and others providing psychosocial support to survivors, as well as winter clothes, blankets, hygiene kits and other critical household items.

“We are also helping families relocate to temporary accommodations in the city”, she said.

The World Health Organization, WHO, is also supplying medicines and other supplies.

Red Cross premises hit

In the southern city of Kherson, the premises hosting the Ukrainian Red Cross Society were hit during shelling in the city on Sunday, said Ms. Tremblay. “Although no one was injured, the organization lost critical supplies.”

The UN deputy relief chief Joyce Msuya, said in a tweet on Monday that she was “shocked and terrified” by the attacks on civilians in Dnipro, and the shelling of the Red Cross facility in Kherson.

Ms. Brown said in a message tweeted by her office that a “place where people impacted by the war can find relief, should never be a target. My thoughts are with the Red Cross colleagues.”

Ms. Tremblay said that UN humanitarians wanted all combatants everywhere to understand that “humanitarian workers and facilities are protected and constant efforts must be made to spare them.

“A hospital, also protected under international humanitarian law, was hit in the city.”

Meanwhile, in Kryviy Rih, in the Dnipro region, local authorities reported that more than 50 homes, three schools, and two kindergartens were damaged on Sunday.

‘Critical’ situation in the east

“Further east, the situation remains critical, with scores of civilians killed and injured on both sides of the front line in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, said Ms. Tremblay.

In the parts of Donetsk currently under Russian control, dozens of homes were damaged, and at least two health centres and several ambulances were also hit during shelling reported over the weekend, according to Russian-installed authorities there.

In a tweet on Monday, the UNICEF office in Ukraine said that 5,000 winter clothing kits have been distributed in the Donetsk region, to “newly accessible cities”.