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Ukraine: 12 civilians killed and 20 injured in Russian drone strike on apartment building, Odesa

In the early hours of Saturday, March 2nd, a Russian drone struck the ninth floor of a residential building in Odesa, destroying 18 apartments and cutting off heat for many. When rescue operations concluded late on March 3rd, it was found that 12 people had been killed, including five children, and another 20 injured in the strike.

Among the child fatalities were a four-month old, a seven-month old, a three year old, an eight year old, and a ten year old.

Since 24 February 2022, AOAV has recorded at least 745 children among the 20,138 civilians killed and injured by explosive weapons in Ukraine. Urban residential locations, like the one hit in Odesa on Saturday, are the worst impacted locations for child casualties of explosive violence, accounting for 52% (386) of children harmed since the invasion. Other impacted locations are multiple urban areas (130 casualties reported as children), and villages (127). 

Overall, urban residential locations have been the most impacted locations since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Of the 5,041 incidents of explosive weapons use AOAV has recorded in that time, 45% (2,281) took place in urban residential areas. These locations account for 36% (7,152) of all 20,138 civilian casualties, and 36% (2,066) of all civilian fatalities since then. Other impacted locations include multiple urban areas (5,997 civilian casualties), and villages (2,062). 

Last year, civilian harm from explosive weapons use in Ukraine fell compared to 2022. 2023 saw a 49% increase in recorded incidents of explosive weapons use in the country, with 2,755 incidents compared to 1,854 in 2022, alongside a 19% decrease in reported civilian casualties. 2022 saw 10,351 civilians reported harmed in Ukraine (3,672 killed), while AOAV recorded 8,351 civilian casualties last year (1,774 killed).

This could reflect a multitude of factors, including the evacuation and migration of civilians away from conflict zones, or reporting fatigue, which would result in less of the granular reporting on which AOAV’s methodology relies.

State actors were responsible for the majority, 98% (2,708), of explosive weapons use in Ukraine in 2023, with the Russian armed forces accounting for 92% (2,544) of reported incidents and 91% (7,621) of civilian casualties. The Ukrainian armed forces were the reported perpetrators of 4% (111) of recorded explosive violence incidents and 7% (599) of civilian casualties. AOAV writes: “with the reported use of explosive weapons by both states party to the conflict increasing significantly, the mutual unwillingness to engage in negotiations reflects the likelihood of ongoing hostilities.”

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.

AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. All actors should stop using explosive weapons with wide-area effects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.