Total civilian casualties from explosive violence*: 17, 946
– Killed: 5, 302
– Injured: 12, 644
Last updated: 1 Dec 2023
*This figure refers to the number of civilians killed or injured by explosive weapon use in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on 24 Feb 2022, gathered using incident-specific English language media reporting. See AOAV’s methodology
In the Ukrainian conflict, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) – which takes its sources from reputable English language media – has recorded up to 1 Dev:
- 21, 291 casualties from explosive weapon use since the Russian invasion began (24 Feb 2022 – 1 Dec 2023), across 4, 404 incidents;
- 17, 946 civilian casualties recorded (5, 302 killed, 12, 644 injured);
- 3, 345 armed-actor casualties (2, 334 killed, 1, 011 injured);
- Among the civilian casualties are at least 641 children, 1, 173 women and 1, 465 men.
- 95% (17, 052) of civilian casualties have occurred in populated areas. Of the total recorded casualties (including armed actors), 85% (18, 197) have occurred in populated areas;
- Ground-launched explosive weapons (missile strikes, artillery shelling, and rockets) have caused 71% (12, 657) of civilian casualties.
- Air-launched explosive weapons have caused 14% (2, 470) of civilian casualties. 4% (801) of civilian casualties have been caused by multiple types of explosive weapons, and 2% (437) of civilian casualties have been caused by naval-launched weapons, IEDs, and landmines.
- Civilian casualties from explosive weapons have been recorded in Donetsk (6, 076 civilian casualties), Kherson (2, 635), Kharkiv (2, 383), Zaporizhzhia (1, 314), Dnipropetrovsk (1, 281), Mykolaiv (987), Luhansk (631), Chernihiv (535), Kyiv (519), Sumy (440), Odesa (342), Vinnytsia (178), Poltava (163), Lviv (113), Khmelnytskyi (80), Cherkasy (64), Zhytomyr (51), Rivne (50), Crimea (32), Ternopil (25), Kirovohrad (19), Volyn (12), Chernivtsi (8), Sevastopol (6), and Ivano-Frankivsk (2).
- The locations where civilian casualties have been recorded are urban residential areas (6, 223 civilian casualties), multiple urban locations (5, 462), villages (1, 740), entertainment venues (709), no information (665), town centres (442), other (378), schools (360), transport-related infrastructure (321), roads (320), commercial premises (296), hospitals (254), humanitarian infrastructure (172), markets (112), public buildings (112), public transport (77), police station (74), agricultural land (70), public gathering (66), hotels (39), places of worship (30), armed base (24).
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the 24th of February 2022, thousands of civilians have been killed and injured across the country. Russian air strikes, missile strikes, and artillery shelling have targeted densely populated urban centres, apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, military bases and vital infrastructure nationwide.
The UN estimates that over a million people, mostly women and children, have fled Ukraine into neighbouring Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, and the number of internally displaced people continues to grow. Humanitarian corridors of evacuation have been attacked, locations of sheltering civilians have been bombed, and Russian forces frequently target apartment buildings, hospitals, schools, and civilian infrastructure with explosive weapons. Reports have emerged of brutal war crimes by Russian forces in occupied towns and villages, as Ukrainian survivors and journalists on-the-ground report testimonies of the indiscriminate shooting and calculated execution of civilians, most severely in Bucha and Borodyanka, Kyiv region. A fuel crisis, food and medicine shortages, cut-off electricity and water supplies, and freezing temperatures compound the struggle to find safety. Men between the ages of 18 and 60 have been banned from leaving the county, and millions of civilians remain in Ukraine, sheltering from the violence of the Russian advance, providing essential goods and services, and fighting alongside Ukrainian armed forces. Latest estimates by Ukrainian sources place the number of Russian forces killed at above 18,000, though official casualty figures on both sides remain obscured.
AOAV’s casualty figures represent the lowest of estimations in terms of the number of people killed and injured by explosive weapon use. In an effort to quantify the explicit harm caused by specific explosive weapons, AOAV solely records incident-specific casualty figures, as reported in English-language media. Much of the casualty reporting since the beginning of the invasion has focussed on cumulative or region-specific casualty figures, making it unclear precisely when and where these deaths and injuries occurred.
Civilian Casualties in Ukraine, 2014-2021
AOAV has monitored an escalation in violence in the Donbas region, which borders Russia, and where violence between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists has occurred since 2014.
Between 2014 and 2021, AOAV recorded 5,242 deaths and injuries in Ukraine, including 2,704 civilians and 2,538 armed actors and security personnel. Of the civilian casualties recorded, 2,381 (88%) were caused by explosive weapon use in populated areas.
Ground-launched weapons, such as shelling, mortars, rockets, or grenades, for example, have accounted for 2,459 civilian casualties since 2014 – 91% of total civilian casualties.
Of the civilian casualties, the vast majority occurred in 2014 and 2015, with 1,428 and 862 civilian deaths and injuries in these years respectively. Despite continued sporadic shelling across the line of control, which divides the region of Donbas, civilian casualties have fallen quite consistently since 2014, with 28 recorded last year. Fewer civilian casualties are also likely to have occurred as numerous civilians have fled the worst impacted areas in Donbas since 2014, leaving an aging population, many of whom cannot leave.
In many instances of shelling since 2014, the perpetrator has not been identified, but where they have, Ukrainian separatist forces have been responsible for at least 667 civilian casualties and Ukraine for 783.
In the days preceding the Russian invasion, there was an increase in shelling across the line of control, which has resulted in seven civilian casualties. At least three civilians were injured on February 17th when separatist shelling hit a school in Luhansk. On the same day, separatist shelling left another woman injured in Marinka as she waited for a bus. Shelling by Ukrainian forces was also reported to have left one woman injured on February 17th. On February 20th, 2 civilian deaths were reported due to Ukrainian shelling in occupied areas of Luhansk. And, on February 21st, a civilian was killed and homes damaged by separatist shelling on Donetsk.
This escalation in violence and the Russian invasion is likely to be disastrous for civilians, as highlighted by the statement released today by the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), of which AOAV is a founding member.
AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. AOAV encourages all armed actors to stop using explosive weapons with wide-area affects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.
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