RUSSIA TARGETS INNOCENTS

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Latest figures indicate at least 102 civilians have been killed, 304 injured and over 422,000 Ukrainians have fled their homeland, reports Asian Lite News

At least 102 civilians in Ukraine have been killed since Russia launched its invasion last Thursday, with a further 304 injured, but the real figure is feared to be “considerably higher”, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Monday.

Bachelet, addressing the opening session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, said: “Most of these civilians were killed by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and air strikes. The real figures are, I fear, considerably higher.”

Some 422,000 Ukrainians have fled their homeland, with many more displaced within the country, she told the Geneva forum which earlier agreed to hold an urgent debate on Ukraine later this week.

Meanwhile, Ukraine and its allies on Monday called for a United Nations inquiry into possible war crimes committed by Russia during its military actions in Ukraine.

The United Nations Human Rights Council voted on Monday to accept Ukraine’s request to hold an urgent debate on Thursday on Russia’s invasion. A Ukrainian draft resolution will be considered at the urgent debate.

If adopted, a commission of three independent experts would investigate all alleged violations of international law in Crimea and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions since 2014 and in other areas of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion last week.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Yevheniia Filipenko, told the Human Rights Council: “Russian forces attempt to sow panic among the population by specifically targeting kindergartens and orphanages, hospitals and mobile medical aid brigades thus committing acts that may amount to war crimes.”

Sheba Crocker, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, said in a statement to Reuters that Monday’s vote to hold the debate showed Russia was totally isolated on the Council.

“Only 4 countries supported Russia’s position, clearly demonstrating the international community is united in condemning Russia’s egregious action,” she said.

Russia’s ambassador Gennady Gatilov said it had launched “special operations to stop the tragedy” in Ukraine’s breakaway Donbass region, and that Russia’s forces were not firing on civilian targets in Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cancelled his planned visit to Geneva to address the forum on Tuesday, which Moscow’s mission said was “due to an unprecedented ban on his flight in the airspace of a number of EU countries that have imposed anti-Russian sanctions”, but gave no specifics.

The cancelation coincided with neutral Switzerland imposing financial sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Lavrov. read more

British minister of state Lord Ahmad called for a probe into alleged human rights violations by Russia.

“There are various discussions taking place here at the Human Rights Council on this investigative mechanism. There are other engagements that we are having, including with the ICC (International Criminal Court), to ensure there is accountability for those crimes that are being committed every hour, every day on the sovereign territory of Ukraine,” he said.

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