The war in Ukraine has created more refugees than the world has seen since WWII, according to a new UN report

Ukraine flag over rubble.
Ukraine flag over rubble.Getty Images
  • The UN has released a new report describing crimes committed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

  • The report details war crimes including torture and rape of civilians, and deportation of children.

  • The invasion has created more refugees and displaced more people than the world has seen since WWII.

More than a year after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a new report released by the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine found evidence of war crimes including the systemic rape, torture, and murder of civilians and indiscriminate attacks on infrastructure that have left millions displaced.

More people have fled Ukraine or been displaced within the country since the start of the war than the world has seen since WWII, according to the United Nations.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that, as of February 21, about eight million refugees from Ukraine have been displaced across Europe — of which around 90 percent are women and children. In addition, there are about 5.4 million people currently displaced across Ukraine who remain in the country.

"Nearly 18 million people in Ukraine are in need of humanitarian assistance and faced particularly harsh conditions during winter months," the report reads. "The conflict has impacted people's right to health, education, adequate housing, food, and water. Some vulnerable groups, such as older persons, children, persons with disabilities, and persons belonging to minorities, have been particularly affected. No region of the country has been spared by the conflict."

As of February 15, OHCHR had recorded 8,006 civilians killed and 13,287 injured in Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24 last year, though the report indicates officials believe the actual figures are "considerably higher."

To complete its report, members of the United Nations commission visited 56 communities impacted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and completed interviews with 348 women and 247 men. Investigators reported seeing "sites of destruction, graves, places of detention and torture, as well as weapon remnants," according to a statement from the UN emailed to Insider.

The report noted that two instances of alleged war crimes committed by Ukrainian forces were investigated, but evidence suggests that "Russian authorities have committed a wide range of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in many regions of Ukraine and in the Russian Federation," according to the report, including "willful killings, attacks on civilians, unlawful confinement, torture, rape, and forced transfers and deportations of children."

"They punished innocent people; now those who are guilty, if they are still alive, need to be punished to the fullest extent," A man, whose father was executed by Russian armed forces in the Izium region, told members of the commission, according to a statement from the UN emailed to Insider.

The International Criminal Court, a tribunal based in The Hague, Netherlands, issued an international arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin on Friday, accusing Russia's leader of war crimes and calling for him to stand trial — though it is unlikely he will do so, as Russia, like the US, does not recognize the authority of the ICC.

Due to his failure to control the military members who committed the acts, Putin is allegedly responsible for the war crime of forcibly deporting children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, the ICC said in a Friday statement.

A State Department spokesperson told Insider "there is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine, and we have been clear that those responsible must be held accountable," adding that the United States "determinations regarding war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine are separate from the ICC's independent decisions on matters before it."

The spokesperson did not respond to Insider's request for information about what action, if any, the State Department may take to hold Putin accountable for war crimes committed in Ukraine.

Representatives for the ICC declined to answer Insider's questions regarding the likelihood Putin will face a trial for the war crimes he is accused of.

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