Counting the human cost Six months of the Russia-Ukraine war


On February 24, the Russian army attacked Ukraine. In the ensuing six months of warfare, nearly six thousand civilians have been killed, according to U.N. estimates. Civilians have been trapped and sometimes even used as shields as military bases have been set up in residential areas, including schools and hospitals. The war has also resulted in a massive, unprecedented refugee flow to Europe and neighbouring countries, even Russia.

  • The Russian-Ukraine war has led to a severe humanitarian crisis
  • At least 13,212 civilian casualties have been reported in Ukraine: 5,514 killed and 7,698 injured
  • About one out of every three Ukrainians have had to move since the war began
  • According to UNICEF, more than 50 per cent of those fleeing Ukraine are children
  • Estonia hosts the biggest refugee population per 1, 00,000 host country citizens so far

“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects, including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles and air strikes,” the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in its latest report.

In numbers

Hundreds of Ukrainian and Russian-speaking civilians are still dying every month, and many more are getting injured. The latest U.N. figures found 5,514 civilian deaths during Russia’s military attack on Ukraine as of August 15, 2022. Furthermore, 7,698 people were reported to have been injured.

More than 6.7 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion. The U.N.’s high commissioner for refugees has warned it has become the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. However, the UNHCR has registered nearly 11 million border crossings out of Ukraine and 4.7 million crossings back into the country.

In March 2022, the United Nations estimated that nearly one of every two Ukrainian children had become a refugee. This translated to over two million children by the end of March, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report said.

Refugees primarily headed for Poland initially, which no longer hosts the highest number of refugees as they have moved to other European countries. Russia hosts the highest number at 2.12 million — Poland is in the second position with 1.2 million refugees.

This only counts migration out of Ukraine — internal displacement of around eight million people has occurred since the conflict began.

The big picture

The root of the ongoing crisis started in 2014 after the Maidan coup, engineered by pro-western politicians in Ukraine, followed by the annexation of the Russian-speaking Crimea into Russia. As a result, the civil war between Ukraine, supported by the western powers, and the breakaway republics in Russian-speaking regions like Donbas, backed by Russia, from April 2014 to January 2021, claimed more than three thousand civilian lives.

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