Ukraine war escalation 'deeply troubling': New UN rights chief

Published on Oct 17, 2022 03:46 PM IST

Russia-Ukraine War: "Any escalation in warfare is deeply troubling to us, and it's happening in Ukraine," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

Russia-Ukraine War: Newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk.(AFP)
Russia-Ukraine War: Newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk.(AFP)
AFP |

The new United Nations rights chief voiced alarm at the escalating conflict in Ukraine as he began his posting on Monday, insisting that civilians must be protected.

"Any escalation in warfare is deeply troubling to us, and it's happening in Ukraine," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights told reporters in Geneva on his first day in the job.

Earlier Monday, Russia launched a fresh attack on Kyiv using what the Ukrainian president's office said were "kamikaze drones".

"We have received reports from our colleagues on the ground about these drone attacks," said Turk, who is succeeding former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet at the helm of the UN rights office.

"It is absolutely important that civilian objects, civilians are not targeted", he said, warning that "this is very difficult in densely populated urban areas."

Monday's attacks came exactly a week after Moscow unleashed a massive two-day wave of missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital and across the country.

Read more: Ukraine official calls on Russia to be excluded from G20 after Kyiv attack

The deadly October 10-11 attacks marked the biggest wave of strikes in months in the conflict that began with Russia's full-scale invasion on February 24, and sparked an international outcry.

Turk, a 57-year-old Austrian national and UN veteran, stressed that respect for international law was "absolutely critical".

'De-escalate'

"The big call is to de-escalate and to find ways and means to respect international law," he said.

"Ultimately, it is about human beings who are not involved in warfare, and they need to be protected."

Turk, who most recently served as UN chief Antonio Guterres's assistant secretary general for policy, said he was taking on his new job at "a very critical point in time".

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