By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) — The United Nations Security Council has been told that there is mounting evidence of brutal killings by Russian troops as part of the “special military operation”. The Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Kateryna Cherepakha, President of the organization La Strada-Ukraine, said local human rights groups are currently consolidating efforts to save civilian lives and collect survivor testimonies about the war crimes committed by the Russian Federation.
Despite clear indications of their status as civilians—and even as they seek evacuations—unarmed Ukrainian women carrying children have been brutally killed by Russian troops, she said, pointing to attacks on the railway station in Kramatorsk on April 8, as well as maternity hospitals, kindergartens and shelters in Mariupol.
She highlighted the increased vulnerability of women and girls to the threat of kidnapping, torture and killing, and nevertheless warned against viewing Ukrainian women as mere victims of the Russian military aggression.
Indeed, she said, women volunteers, activists, journalists and human rights defenders, are an integral part of her country and its resistance.
Speaking at the Security Council on April 11, the head of the UN’s gender agency warned that increasing reports of sexual violence and human trafficking in Ukraine—allegedly committed against women and children in the context of massive displacement and the ongoing Russian invasion—are raising “all the red flags” about a potential protection crisis.
UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous said reports of rape and other crimes are emerging as huge numbers of displaced Ukrainians continue fleeing their homes amid the presence of conscripted soldiers and mercenaries, and against the backdrop of brutal killings of civilians.
She recounted her recently-ended trip to the Republic of Moldova, where she witnessed buses full of anxious and exhausted women and children being met at the Ukrainian border by compassionate civil society workers.
UN Women, which has coordination mandate, is supporting civil society workers “to ensure that the gendered nature of this crisis is addressed with a gender-sensitive response”.
Ms. Bahous condemned in the strongest terms April 8 attack on a train station in Kramatorsk, which killed dozens of women and children waiting for evacuation from Ukraine. War. “This trauma risks destroying a generation,” she warned.
UNICEF’s Director of Emergencies, Manuel Fontaine, said the agency’s teams were offloading life-saving humanitarian supplies just a kilometre away from the Kramatorsk train station at the time of the April 8 ttack.
Meanwhile, children, families and communities in Ukraine remain under attack, many do not have enough food, and attacks on water systems have left some 1.4 million without access to a safe supply.
As of April 10, the UN has verified 142 children killed and 229 children injured, but “we know these numbers are likely much higher”. Hundreds of schools and educational facilities have also been attacked or used for military purposes.
Emphasizing that nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have been displaced since the conflict began, he said, UNICEF and its partners are doing everything possible, both inside and outside Ukraine —including carefully monitoring the health, rights and dignity of women and girls as the risk of exploitation and abuse grows.
However, ongoing fighting is preventing access to many areas of the country. [IDN-InDepthNews – 12 April 2022]
Photo: An injured girl rests in a medical ward in Kyiv, Ukraine, after her car was shelled. © WHO/Anastasia Vlasova
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