Russia-Ukraine War

Escalation in fighting in Ukraine's Kharkiv region causes ‘heaviest impact’: UN

'At least 174 civilians were killed and 690 were injured in May, highest number of civilian casualties in single month since June 2023,' says UN official

Merve Gül Aydoğan Ağlarcı  | 07.06.2024 - Update : 08.06.2024
Escalation in fighting in Ukraine's Kharkiv region causes ‘heaviest impact’: UN Ukrainian soldiers from the 13th Brigade of the National Guard fire artillery in their fighting position in the direction of Russian border, as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine on June 03, 2024.


A UN official on Friday said a sharp increase in fighting in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, where Russian forces entered early May and have since advanced, has the “heaviest impact.”

"An escalation in fighting in the Kharkiv region since 10 May has had the heaviest impact," Joyce Msuya, UN deputy secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs, said at a briefing at the UN Security Council.

Citing the UN human rights office, Msuya said: "At least 174 civilians were killed and 690 were injured in May, the highest number of civilian casualties in a single month since June 2023."

"More than half of these casualties can be attributed to the fighting in Kharkiv," she added.

The conflict has damaged essential infrastructure, including shopping centers, homes, and educational establishments, leading to the displacement of at least 18,100 people in the Kharkiv region, said Msuya, highlighting the ongoing efforts to support the displaced people.

"With support from around 50 humanitarian organizations, more than 12,000 people are receiving assistance at a transit center in Kharkiv City," she said.

Stressing the severity of humanitarian needs in Ukraine, the UN official said: "In total, OHCHR (the UN human rights office) has now verified the killing of at least 11,000 civilians and the injury of more than 21,000 others across Ukraine since 24 February 2022. The actual toll is likely much higher."

She also stated that more than 600 Ukrainian children have been killed and 1,425 injured.

"More than 14.6 million people – about 40% of the population – require some form of humanitarian assistance. Over half of them are women and girls," she said.

Expressing gratitude to donors, Msuya said they have "so far provided $856 million in humanitarian funding – or 27% of the $3.1 billion required under the 2024 Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan."

She also addressed the impact as a result of attacks on Russia, saying: "Strikes inside the Russian Federation, including in the Belgorod region, have also resulted in civilian casualties and damage to residential homes and other civilian infrastructure."

She pointed out broader implications, particularly concerning global food security.

"In recent weeks, there have been worrying indications of renewed upwards pressure on global grain prices, linked to this damage to infrastructure in Ukraine," Msuya said, reiterating the necessity of safe navigation throughout the Black Sea and protecting ports to ensure food exports reach global markets predictably and efficiently.

Msuya further pledged the UN's commitment to supporting those affected and highlighted the upcoming Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin as crucial for advancing recovery efforts.

"We welcome the Ukraine Recovery Conference, being held on 11-12 June in Berlin. This will be a key opportunity for donors, key partners, and the UN to advance the Government’s recovery priorities," she said.

She further made a call to action, urging the UN Security Council and all member states to uphold international humanitarian law, pursue peace, and alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

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