STORY: Ukraine Update OHCHR WFP WHO UNICEF
SOURCE: UNTV CH
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 23 August 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
The United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) expressed concern on Tuesday after photos and videos on social media appeared to show metal cages being built in the philharmonic hall in Ukraine's Mariupol, apparently to restrain Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) during proceedings.
OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said the trials by the Russian-backed authorities could come - possibly within days - and warned that such a process could amount to a war crime.
"We are very concerned about the manner in which this is being done. There are pictures in the media of cages being built in Mariupol's philharmonic hall, really massive cages and apparently, the idea is to restrain the prisoners," Ms. Shamdasani told a briefing in Geneva. "This is not acceptable, this is humiliating," she said.
Ms. Shamdasani pointed out how “under international law, individuals entitled to prisoner of war status have combatant immunity and cannot be prosecuted for having participated in hostilities, or for lawful acts of war committed in the course of the armed conflict, even if such acts would otherwise constitute an offence under domestic law."
The spokesperson added that OHCHR was concerned that prisoners of war have generally been held without access to independent monitors, exposing them to the risk of being tortured to extract a confession.
"There have also been worrying public statements by Russian officials and members of affiliated armed groups labelling Ukrainian prisoners of war as ‘war criminals, ‘Nazis’, and ‘terrorists’, thereby undermining the presumption of innocence."
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that it has seen “an unprecedented number of attacks on healthcare,” since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began nearly six months ago.
“As of 23rd of August, over 460 attacks on health care have been verified by WHO, leading to almost 100 deaths and over 100 injuries,” Dr. Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative and Head of WHO Country Office in Ukraine said.
Dr. Habicht stressed that “while these attacks are not only the violation of international law, they are also a barrier for many who need to care.”
“It is not only the supplies and others we need to support – we need to ensure also that the services are available,” he added.
According to the UN Children’s Fund, (UNICEF), officially 356 children have been killed in Ukraine during the war with Russia. Speaking in Geneva, UNICEF spokesperson, James Elder acknowledged it “is a low estimate,” but they “expect it to be many more based on the thoroughness of how verification is done”.
On Monday, UNICEF reported that nearly 1,000 children had been killed or injured in Ukraine (on average five children per day) but the real number is likely higher. Reiterating the urgent need for peace, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell pointed out that “once again, as in all wars, the reckless decisions of adults are putting children at extreme risk. There are no armed operations of this kind that do not result in children being harmed.”
According to the World Food Programme (WFP) the first vessel transporting Ukrainian wheat grain to the Horn of Africa is due to berth in Djibouti on 30 August.
The MV Brave Commander departed from the Black Sea port of Yuzhny on 16 August, as part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed by Ukraine, Russia, Türkiye and the UN in July. But Michael Dunford, WFP Regional Director for East Africa, warned that while this was “a very positive development,” it was “not the answer”.
“That one ship, 23,000 metric tons of wheat, is the equivalent of feeding 1.5 million people for just one month. And yet we currently estimate that there could be upwards of 22 million people requiring assistance,” he said.