As Russian troops withdraw from parts of the Ukraine, the full scale of the fighting is becoming known.
Scenes of horror have emerged from Bucha, near the capital Kyiv — where alleged mass graves were found and dead civilians lie scattered on the streets.
As per Ukraine’s prosecutor-general, Iryna Venediktova, bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from Kyiv-area towns after the withdrawal of Russian forces.
With more reports pouring in about damage in cleared parts of Chernihiv and Sumy regions, both the US and Europe are contemplating tighter sanctions against Moscow.
Russia, meanwhile, has denied all allegations and has called for a special UN Security Council meeting to address the claims of atrocities.
The Russian defence ministry noted that all Russian military units had left Bucha on March 30, and that civilians had been free to move around the town or evacuate while it was under Russian control.
Neutral and independent inquiry
Given the gravity of these allegations, a neutral and independent inquiry into such reports becomes all the more crucial as Moscow blames unknown Ukrainians for the killings. This crime thus must be investigated as we can no longer rely on social media reports in a war that has been characterised by sheer propaganda.
Ukrainians have faced widespread dislocation since the conflict began. Mariupol, a port on the Sea of Azov that has seen some of the war’s greatest suffering, continues to remain cut off.
As per conservative estimates, about 100,000 civilians — less than a quarter of the pre-war population of 430,000 — are believed to be stuck with little food, water, fuel and medicine. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which previously helped evacuate residents, has not been able to send its teams in Mariupol.
Global bodies like Human Rights Watch have documented several cases of violations against civilians in areas of the Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kyiv regions.
Already the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has agreed to establish a commission to investigate violations committed in Ukraine. The need of the hour is to make sure that a time-bound, impartial and complete investigation is carried out to find out the truth about these allegations.
Each human life is precious and especially so in a conflict zone, where civilians — including the elderly, women and children — are on their own.
Here is the Middle East, witness to strife and conflict for the longest time, we fully understand the need to bring closure and justice to the victims.