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UN slams civilian toll as Russia’s war in Ukraine reached day 500

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The United Nations condemned the civilian cost inflicted by Russia’s war in Ukraine as the fighting passed the 500-day mark with no end to the conflict in sight.

More than 9,000 civilians, including 500 children, have been killed since Russia’s February 24, 2022 invasion, the UN’s Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) said in a statement on Friday, though UN repre-sentatives have previously said the real count is likely to be much higher.

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“Today we mark another grim milestone in the war that continues to exact a horrific toll on Ukraine’s civilians,” Noel Calhoun, the deputy head of HRMMU, said in the statement marking the 500th day since the invasion.

While this year the casualty numbers have been lower on average than in 2022, the figure began to climb again in May and June, the monitors noted.

On June 27, 13 civilians, including four children, were killed in a missile strike on Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine.

And far from the front line in the western city of Lviv, at least five people were killed and another 37 were wound-ed during a bombing early Thursday that the mayor called the biggest attack on civilian infrastructure since the invasion began.

UNESCO said that attack was also the first to take place in an area protected by the World Heritage Convention and had damaged a historic building.

Russia regularly bombards Ukraine with air attacks, including indiscriminate artillery and missile fire that have been especially deadly. The strikes have also targeted infrastructure and supply lines, depriving civilians of power and water.

The cities of Bucha and Mariupol became bywords for Russian atrocities last year, after reports and images of mas-sacres there shocked the world and prompted allegations of war crimes and even genocide.

In the once-sleepy commuter town Bucha, AFP journalists witnessed a single street filled with corpse after corpse in civilian clothes in April.

Satellite images later showed that several bodies had been lying in the street since mid-March, when the town was under Russian control, while Ukrainian authorities said that hundreds of people had been killed in Bucha by Mos-cow’s retreating forces.

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