Euromaidan SOS Statement: incomplete UN figures on civilian casualties are misleading as to the real scale of Russia’s war against Ukraine
UN OHCHR needs to immediately change the presentation of information about the deaths of civilians in Ukraine as a result of Russian armed aggression. Currently, the UN information references on the number of dead contains an inconspicuous disclaimer that this data is incomplete . In addition, it is noted that the organization enters data only after verification, which may give the impression as if other official sources are inaccurate, and the discourse on the mass murder of civilians is an exaggeration.
The UN OHCHR’s chosen method of informing about losses among civilians leads to a number of negative consequences:
- despite the appeals of human rights organizations, UN staff are still absent from the places of hostilities, during evacuations and on the territories occupied by Russia, and carry out monitoring and verification remotely. Therefore, they do not possess objective data and often omit sources that report on the actual number of losses. The publication of such data causes great damage to the reputation of the international organization, which should be one of the most important sources of factual information about one of the biggest international conflicts of the recent decades.
- states and international organizations are guided by UN data, and therefore have a distorted impression of the situation, which leads to a deadly delay of providing urgent necessary humanitarian and military assistance to Ukraine. In addition, the incomplete data on losses among civilians is simply misleading about the real scale of Russia’s war against Ukraine;
- for example, according to the UN, from March 25th to April 15th the death toll increased by only 900 people, while in the Kyiv region alone, about 900 civilians killed by Russians were recorded after March 31st, according to the official report of the National Police of Ukraine. This reduces the real scale of aggression in the eyes of the international community and distorts data for further trials of violations of international law by Russian troops;
- Incomplete UN figures are covered by foreign media headlines, while readers do not notice the inconspicuous disclaimer in UN reports, and most media do not even reprint them. As a result, readers remain convinced of the objectivity of the data and continue to spread inaccurate information through reposts and numerous reprints.
We demand from UN OHCHR to necessarily indicate before the figures a noticeable and clear disclaimer that the data is incomplete and do not reflect the real situation with the number of civilians killed as a result of the Russian war against Ukraine.
We urge the media to always indicate a similar disclaimer when publishing news about the number of dead civilians as a result of Russian aggression and when publishing such information from any other official or unofficial sources.
1. “The UN OHCHR believes that the real figures are much higher, as the receiving of information from some places, where intense combat operations continue, occurs with a delay and many messages from places where the information about losses among civilians comes from still needs to be confirmed”.