Mr. Türk said these “relentless” attacks were deepening the humanitarian crisis in the country, tearing apart infrastructure, and creating a host of socioeconomic challenges.  

Between March and May, 436 civilians were killed and 1,760 injured, High Commissioner Türk said.

“These high civilian casualties are largely the result of the ground offensive and aerial attacks, including with powerful air-dropped bombs, that took place in Kharkiv region,” the rights chief said.

Such attacks must stop immediately.”

An attack on energy

The head of OHCHR said Russian forces had been targeting power-generating and distribution systems which has limited Ukraine’s electricity capacity.

Millions of civilians experience power cuts, often for hours at a time, decreasing access to water, internet and public transportation, he said. This was impacting jobs, tax revenues and weakening social protection.  

But the worst is possibly yet to come,” Mr. Türk said, “as energy companies and the Ukrainian authorities caution that repeated strikes have reduced the ability to make the necessary repairs to heat homes during winter.”

Russian citizenship  

Mr. Türk said OHCHR has documented a rise in pressure to obtain Russian passports in the occupied territories of Ukraine.

Without Russian citizenship, many older people are reportedly experiencing difficulty accessing healthcare. For parents, they are having challenges sending their children to school without them obtaining a Russian passport.

This, the rights chief said, violates international humanitarian law.

Call for a ceasefire

The High Commissioner for Human Rights said the escalation of war in Ukraine “cannot become the new normal.”

Mr. Türk calls on the Russian Federation to immediately end its use of force against Ukraine and to withdraw troops from occupied territories in the country.

He also calls for the federation to end the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas.

War is the worst enemy of human rights”, he said. “It has to be shunned and peace must be found in line with the UN Charter and international law.”

That is the most fervent wish of Ukrainians.