UKRAINE- After graphic images of battered bodies left out in the open or hurriedly buried from the suburb of Kyiv emerged this past weekend, of a massacre of killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, senior United Nations officials echoed the Secretary-General’s call for an independent investigation into the deaths.
Human rights chief Michelle Bachelet expressed horror on Monday at the sight of dead people lying on the streets and in improvised graves.
“Reports emerging from this and other areas, raise serious and disturbing questions about possible war crimes, grave breaches of international humanitarian law, and serious violations of international human rights law,” she said.
In his first trip since the war began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy left the capital, Kyiv, to see for himself what he called “genocide” and “war crimes” in Bucha. People were found dead in barrels, basements, strangled, and tortured, he said.”
TAKE STEPS TO PRESERVE ALL EVIDENCE
According to Ms. Bachelet, all bodies should be exhumed and identified so that the families of the victims can be notified and the cause of death established. All precautions should also be taken to preserve evidence, she added.
“It is vital that all efforts are made to ensure there are independent and effective investigations into what happened in Bucha, to ensure truth, justice, and accountability, as well as reparations and remedy for victims and their families,” she said.
Furthermore, UN officials in Ukraine have joined the Secretary-General’s request for an investigation into what happened in Bucha.
RIGHT MONITORS ARE ON THE WAY
In addition to the violence in Kyiv, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, highlighted violence against civilians in Irpin and Hostomel as well as in other parts of the country.
She emphasized the necessity of independently verifying all reports of violence against civilians, and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has been visiting these locations without delay.
She added that an independent investigation is essential in determining the extent of such crimes and holding perpetrators accountable.
UKRAINIAN PEOPLE ARE ‘LIVING IN HELL’
According to Lubrani, civilian protection is a “bedrock” of the commitment of UN Member States to people worldwide, and in times of war they are further bound by commitments agreed under the Geneva Conventions.
She said speaking on behalf of the UN in Ukraine, “We will continue to closely monitor and report on attacks on schools, hospitals, medical workers and other civilian infrastructure, on the use of heavy weapons in residential areas, and the denial of humanitarian access.”
The UN has called for humanitarian pauses so that civilians can leave safely, and aid workers can deliver lifesaving supplies. The country has been living through “hell” for more than a month.
“We continue to call for a ceasefire and peace in Ukraine,” said Ms. Lubrani.
“We know that words alone cannot comfort the loss of loved ones or replace action. This deadly war needs to stop: that is the only way to end this pointless loss of life and suffering.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, UN agencies and partners have aided more than 1.4 million people with critical assistance.
A $1.1 billion humanitarian appeal, launched last month, has been partially funded.
‘RELIEF CHIEF’ IN MOSCOW
Over the weekend, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Martin Griffiths visited Moscow and held high-level meetings with Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister and Defense Minister.
Meetings are being held among the UN relief chiefs to explore possible agreements and arrangements for a humanitarian ceasefire.
As part of Tuesday’s Security Council meeting in New York, Mr. Griffiths will participate in a briefing with Secretary-General António Guterres and the head of the UN’s Political Affairs Department, Rosemary DiCarlo.
Following that, he is expected to travel to Ukraine, according to the UN’s Deputy Spokesperson to New York correspondents.