It’s never easy writing about the numbers of people killed in eastern Ukraine. There’s a risk the reporting of numbers overshadows the pain and suffering which prompted their collation. That you become so used to writing X number of people died today, that you unintentionally forget X represents the numbers of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who lost their lives.
With that in mind, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has updated their Assessment of the number of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters killed in Ukraine. As reported by Radio Free Europe the UN published the following totals.
Number of deaths since April 2014 – Jan 31st 2019: Total of 12,800 to 13,000.
This includes – 3,321 civilians. 4,000 Ukrainian military and 5,500 “armed groups” soldiers (Russia led forces). Total includes the 298 passengers and crew killed by Russia’s downing of flight MH17 on July 17th 2014.
The total for Russia’s mercenary and regular troops is likely to be much higher. We know many bodies are taken back to Russia and a good many have been buried in unmarked graves inside occupied Ukraine. No daily official numbers of soldiers killed or wounded are reported by Russia’s so-called Donetsk and Luhansk republics in Ukraine. What we do know is that some cemeteries in the occupied territories hold over 1,500 unmarked graves with these almost certainly linked to Russia’s military.
Overall the total of people killed will likewise be far higher. With the heavy and fast moving fighting during 2014/15, many burials and deaths will have gone unreported. Unmarked graves will be a feature of most cemeteries in the conflict zone and some soldiers and civilians will have been buried where they fell.
The UN put the total at 27,500 to 30,000, including 7,000 to 9,000 civilians.
The only goods news is the reduction in civilian causalities. This is due to the more static nature of the conflict, with both sides dug in along a 457 km front line.