UN on Thursday said that Ukraine had requested an urgent debate at the UN Human Rights Council on the situation stemming from the Russian aggression.

“This is a response to the extremely grave deterioration in the human rights situation in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s hostilities on Ukrainian territory,’’ Yevheniia Filipenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said.

Filipenko said in a letter sent to the president’s forum, posted in a tweet by its mission to the UN in Geneva.

The European Union (EU) said in a separate tweet that it supported the move.

The Council president will meet and discuss the request with the 47-member body for its consideration, a UN statement said.

A simple majority is needed to hold an urgent debate during its main annual month-long session opening on Monday.

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Michelle Bachelet issued a statement on the military attack.

“Civilians in various parts of Ukraine were awoken by sounds of heavy bombardment and are terrified of further escalation, with many fleeing their homes,” she said.

“This military action clearly violates international law and puts at risk countless civilian lives. It must be immediately halted.”

Bachelet reminded that States failing to take all reasonable measures to settle their international disputes by peaceful means “fall short of complying with their obligation to protect the right to life.”

Reports have emerged of military strikes near major cities with significant populations, including Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Odesa, Mariupol and the capital, Kyiv.

“The protection of the civilian population must be a priority. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas should – at all costs – be avoided,” underscored the High Commissioner.

She called for the full respect of international humanitarian law, in particular the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their first additional protocol of 1977, as well as international human rights law.

The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission remains in the country and will continue to closely monitor and report on the situation.

The UN human rights chief also warned of “an information war” under way.

“It is particularly crucial at this time that we continue to closely monitor and attempt to verify reports of human rights violations, including civilian casualties, damage to civilian objects, including critical infrastructure, and other impact on human rights on the ground,” she upheld.

The UN Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 15-member body met on Wednesday night in the second emergency Security Council meeting on Ukraine in three days.

At the meeting, Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya, told the  Council that Russia had declared war on his country, calling on the Council to stop Russian troops from attacking Ukraine.

Kyslytsya said that most of his statement was “useless now” after the Russian Ambassador had stated openly from the floor of the Council that President Vladimir Putin had “declared war on my country”.

He welcomed the intention of some Council members to submit a resolution condemning the aggression against Ukraine, saying “there is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell”.

Kyslytsya asked the Russian Ambassador to clarify whether Ukraine was being bombed “at this very moment”.

“It’s too late to speak about de-escalation. Too late. The Russian President declared a war. Should I play the video of your President? You declared a war. It’s responsibility of this body to stop the war,” Kyslytsya said, directing his comments to Russian Ambassador Nebenzya.

Considering this “delectation of war” the Ukrainian Ambassador said that the Russian Federation should “relinquish the responsibilities of Council President and transfer them on to a responsible member of the Council who respected the Charter”.

Russian Ambassador Vasily Alekseevich Nebenzya, who is serving as the President of the Council for February, said that after listening to the statements tonight and in recent days, it was difficult to explain intensification of shelling by the Ukrainian regime of civilians in Donetsk and Luhansk.

All the speeches and speakers seemed not to care for those people “who are living in basements. They seemed not to care about the refugees are fleeing to Russia,” he said, as if “those four million people simply don’t exist”.

“We tried yesterday and the day before to explain the logic by which Russia recognised the regions in the Donbas, but you just didn’t want to hear it; then or now.

“The people of the Donbas have been living in fear for the past eight years under Ukraine’s shelling and aggressions,” he said.

The Russian Ambassador stated that “the root of today’s crisis around Ukraine is Ukraine itself, which has for years been undermining the Minsk Agreements and calls for de-escalation”.

He went on to say that he had just learned that President Putin had declared a special military operation in the region, but that was all he knew and would need more time to gather specific information. 

By Editor

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