On February 24th, people in Ukraine woke to the terrifying sound of Russian missile strikes and reports of troop movements across borders. Multiple cities are under attack, including the capital Kyiv.
The Russian military has shown a blatant disregard for civilian lives by using ballistic missiles and other explosive weapons in densely populated areas. On the first day of the attack, Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab verified three incidents, in which at least six civilians were killed and at least twelve injured from missile strikes outside a hospital and in residential areas. Some of these attacks may constitute war crimes.
Ukranian civilians are fleeing for their lives. Our Amnesty Ukraine colleagues are reporting that civilians are being urged to hide in defunct bomb shelters. People on the streets are frantically ducking into underground parking lots and metro stations. Many families can’t find shelter.
Our hearts go out to all who are already living with the consequences of this attack, including those in Canada who are worried about their loved ones.
Armed conflict is devastating for human rights. This invasion is an immediate threat to civilian lives, livelihoods and infrastructure, and could cause acute food shortages. As millions are forced to leave their homes, mass displacement will likely create a refugee crisis in addition to the disaster we are currently witnessing.
Anyone who has lived through a war also knows that it most heavily impacts those already marginalized, including members of minority groups. As always, it is the children, older persons, the sick, the poor, the homeless, those living with disabilities and so many more whose lives will be disrupted by this senseless attack. And women who will pick up and rebuild the broken pieces with their bare hands.
Some individuals are also at elevated risk of being targeted, including human rights activists, LGBTI Ukrainians, and journalists.
Today, Amnesty is pressing the UN General Assembly to meet in an emergency session and adopt a resolution denouncing Russia’s unlawful attack and calling for an end to all violations of humanitarian law and human rights. The lives, safety and well-being of millions of civilians are at stake.
Amnesty is also mobilizing as a global movement to protect human rights and lives in Ukraine, and hold leaders accountable, by:
- Preparing crisis investigators to be on the ground to document human rights abuses that are committed, and mobilizing our Crisis Evidence Lab to collect video and photographic evidence of attacks;
- Lobbying governments to allocate funding to support targeted activists in affected areas; identify individuals who may face retaliation for human rights activism and provide for their safe exit out of Ukraine; and dedicate additional support for members of minority groups who are most at risk;
- Raising funds for our Global Relief Fund to provide relocation services to groups who are most at risk, including human rights defenders and journalists;
- Working alongside a coalition of international groups to strengthen our collective global power to center human rights in the discourse over this conflict.
We are monitoring this rapidly evolving crisis closely to verify and expose violations of international law by all parties. You can follow our updates on Twitter (even if you don’t use Twitter) at @amnestypress and @amnesty.
We can never be silent or give in to hopelessness in the face of human rights atrocities. It will be incredibly important in the coming days for the international community to demand protection for civilians in Ukraine.
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Around the world, millions face the devastating impact of living through armed conflict daily. Thank you for supporting Amnesty International’s life-saving efforts to monitor human rights abuses, protect internally displaced populations, and defend human rights defenders at risk in Ukraine and wherever civilian lives are at risk.
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