United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized Russia on Thursday for the killing of 136 children in Ukraine in 2022, according to a report presented to the U.N. Security Council and cited by Reuters. Guterres added that the actions of Russian armed forces warranted their inclusion on a global list of offenders.
The document reveals that a total of 477 children lost their lives in Ukraine last year. Among them, 136 deaths were attributed to Russian forces and affiliated groups, while 80 deaths were attributed to Ukrainian armed forces. Additionally, the report states that 909 children suffered severe injuries, with 518 of them being harmed by Russian forces and proxy groups, and 175 by Ukrainian forces.
The report further states that Russian armed forces used 91 children as human shields.
Russia has denied targeting civilians since it invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
“I am particularly shocked by the high number of attacks on schools and hospitals and protected personnel, and by the high number of children killed and maimed attributed to the Russian forces and affiliated armed groups,” Guterres said in the report, which was distributed to members of the Security Council on Thursday and seen by multiple members of the media, including reporters from Reuters and Agence France-Presse (AFP).
At the time of the report, the Russian mission to the United Nations in New York had not yet responded to a request for comment.
International NGO Human Rights Watch welcomed the UN's decision to call out Russia.
“By adding Russia's forces to his list of shame, the Secretary-General is holding them to account for horrific violations against children,” Jo Becker, the group's advocacy director for children's rights, told AFP.
“Hundreds of Ukrainian children have been killed in apparently indiscriminate Russian attacks on apartment buildings and other civilian structures,” she added.
Guterres’ annual report to the 15-member Security Council on children and armed conflict encompasses various violations against children, including killing, maiming, sexual abuse, abduction or recruitment, denial of aid access, and the targeting of schools and hospitals.
The report, which will be released publicly next week, was compiled by Virginia Gamba, Guterres’ special representative for children and armed conflict. Gamba recently visited Ukraine and Russia, where she held discussions with Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia's envoy for children's rights. It is worth noting that Lvova-Belova is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes.
On March 17, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lvova-Belova on charges of the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine and the unauthorized transfer of individuals from Ukraine to Russia since the invasion on February 24, 2022.
Moscow said the warrants were legally void as Russia was not a signatory to the treaty that established the ICC.
The U.N. report on children and armed conflict verified the abduction of 91 children by Russian armed forces; all of them were subsequently released. The report also verified the transfer of 46 children to Russia from Ukraine.
Cover photo: A man cries over his teenage son's lifeless body on a stretcher at a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward during Russia's assault on in Mariupol in March 2022. Evgeniy Maloletka / Associated Press