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Ukraine death toll ‘thousands higher’ than reported: UN rights official

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Thousands more civilians have been killed in Ukraine during nearly 11 weeks of war there than the official UN death toll of 3,381, the head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in the country said on Tuesday.

The UN team, which includes 55 monitors in Ukraine, has said most of the deaths have occurred from the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area such as missile and airstrikes.

“We have been working on estimates, but all I can say for now is that it is thousands higher than the numbers we have currently given to you,” Matilda Bogner told a news briefing in Geneva, when asked about the total number of deaths and injuries.

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“The big black hole is really Mariupol where it has been difficult for us to fully access and to get fully corroborated information,” she added, referring to the port city in southeast Ukraine that has seen the heaviest fighting of the war.

Moscow denies targeting civilians and calls its invasion, launched on February 24, a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of what it calls anti-Russian nationalists fomented by the West. Ukraine and the West say this is a false pretext for waging an unprovoked war of aggression.

Bogner said her team was also investigating what he described as “credible allegations” of torture, ill-treatment and executions by Ukrainian forces against the Russian invading forces and affiliated armed groups.

“In terms of the extent of violations by Ukrainian forces, while the scale is significantly higher on the side of allegations against Russian forces, we are also documenting violations by Ukrainian forces,” she said.

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