In the Kyiv suburb of Borodyanka, 29 residential buildings and many more private houses were destroyed by Russian airstrikes on March 4th during the battle for Kyiv. Credit: Serhii Korovayny/ UNOCHA


The Hague, NL, February 20, 2023 – Nearly a year after Russia launched a full-blown invasion of Ukraine, the scale of destruction and civilian casualties testifies of the brutality of the conflict. Major violations of international humanitarian law have been repeatedly perpetrated in a climate of impunity. Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) calls for an end to the war and to hold accountable all perpetrators of international crimes. 


Alexander Grif, Country Director of CIVIC in Ukraine, said: 

“Russian armed forces have repeatedly targeted civilians and civilian objects in Ukraine for nearly a year now. From deliberate airstrikes of populated areas to the mass murder of civilians and prisoners of war in places like Bucha, Irpin, and Olenivka, the list of atrocities has grown with each passing day. The war in Ukraine has been characterized by an immoral and illegal disregard for civilian lives.  

Russia’s armed forces have employed various tactics to break the will and morale of the population in Ukraine. Attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure on the eve of the winter season and onwards were another unacceptable form of collective punishment on the Ukrainian people. Millions of Ukrainians have been left struggling with access to electricity, heat, and water.  

Too many civilian lives have been targeted and harmed in Ukraine to be ignored. Accountability is paramount. Victims and survivors of crimes need justice and perpetrators of crimes need to be punished. It’s time now for countries to agree on where perpetrators should be accountable for war crimes and other atrocities.“ 


Federico Borello, Executive Director of CIVIC, said: 

“The war in Ukraine is a textbook example of violations upon violations of international humanitarian law. Warfare tactics and weapons used by Russian armed forces in Ukraine suggest a deliberate attempt to cause mass destruction and inflict harm upon civilians. 

The use of explosive weapons in populated areas has once again demonstrated the devastating impact of urban warfare on civilians and civilian infrastructure. Multiple Russian strikes were carried out with inherently indiscriminate weapons, causing large-scale damage. About 50% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been destroyed and about 136,000 civilian buildings are reported to have been shattered in Ukraine.  

After nearly 12 months of fighting, there seems to be no end in sight for the war in Ukraine. This also means that the impact of the war will continue to be felt elsewhere, including in countries that are also suffering from armed conflict and instability. With the economic fallout of the war in Ukraine and the steep rise in global prices, millions of people have struggled to put food on their table in places like Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Lebanon. Individuals and families who had very little to make ends meet have been left with virtually nothing. 

This senseless war in Ukraine must end. The military option has only brought death and destruction with civilians paying the highest price. It’s time to give peace a chance and allow Ukrainians to rebuild and heal.” 


Statement available in Ukrainian and Russian.


CIVIC in Ukraine 

CIVIC has been present in Ukraine since 2017, conducting research and on-the-ground activities assisting the Ukrainian government and the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) in the development and implementation of tools, training, and policies on protection of civilians. CIVIC in Ukraine is also supporting local communities in the areas at risk of escalation of hostilities and in newly liberated areas by strengthening their preparedness and resilience to protection threats, building effective coordination systems with the military, local authorities and communities, and amplifying civilians’ voice through research and advocacy. 


Civilians’ quotes:   

  • They [Russian soldiers] just don’t care about what object they’re bombing.” – One Ukrainian civilian interviewed by CIVIC 
  •  “In the 21st century, when there are phones, internet, everything can be sold and bought within five seconds…something like this [a war] is happening, like in the Middle Ages.” – One man interviewed by CIVIC in Kyiv 
  • “[Russian soldiers] were shooting people even when the whole car had ‘Children’ signs on all sides. They just didn’t care. They were just getting more interested.” – A civilian interviewed by CIVIC in Kyiv.
  • A basement would become a grave, we all realized that.” One civilian referring to the many Ukrainians doing their best to adapt basements and make them livable. 
  • It was a rush and a nightmare: all the people wanted to leave, children were screaming, and we were slowly going crazy.” – A Ukrainian civilian speaking to CIVIC about their lack of preparedness when they fled without knowing their final destination or how long they would be gone. 
  • We didn’t take too much, and it was a mistake. Now we understand that we were wrong in our confidence that there would be peace.” – A civilian interviewed by CIVIC, and who packed for only a few days, not expecting that displacement could last for months or even years. 


Facts and Figures: 

  • Nearly 6 million Ukrainians are internally displaced, and more than 8 million have fled as refugees to European countries. (UNOCHA) 
  • 40 percent of Ukraine’s population is in need of humanitarian assistance. (UNOCHA) 
  • As of December 31, 2022, more than 760 attacks against healthcare facilities, vehicles, and personnel were recorded in Ukraine. (WHO) 
  • Many attacks by Russian armed forces were carried out with explosive weapons with wide area effects, including cluster munities, unguided aerial bombs, and guided missiles.  
  • As of November 2022, the total amount of documented damage to buildings and infrastructure amounted to nearly USD136 billion. (Kyiv School of Economics)   


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: 

  • Hajer Naili,, +31 06 21 69 68 86 / +1 917 889 5982 (WhatsApp)  
  • CIVIC’s global media team:  


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