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Global civilian deaths in conflicts soared 72% in 2023; UN slams 'dehumanising rhetoric', urges peace (WATCH)

Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, UN rights chief Volker Turk expressed grave concern over warring parties exceeding acceptable and legal boundaries.

Global civilian deaths in conflicts soared 72% in 2023; UN slams 'dehumanising rhetoric', urges peace (WATCH) snt
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First Published Jun 18, 2024, 3:55 PM IST

In 2023, global conflicts resulted in a stark rise in casualties among children and women, with fatalities among civilians overall increasing by 72 percent compared to the previous year, according to the United Nations on Tuesday. Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, UN rights chief Volker Turk expressed grave concern over warring parties exceeding acceptable and legal boundaries.

They are showing "utter contempt for the other, trampling human rights at their core", he said. "Killings and injuries of civilians have become a daily occurrence. Destruction of vital infrastructure a daily occurrence".

"Children shot at. Hospitals bombed. Heavy artillery launched on entire communities. All along with hateful, divisive, and dehumanising rhetoric," he added.

The UN rights chief reported that his office had collected data showing a 72 percent increase in civilian deaths in armed conflicts last year.

"Horrifyingly, the data indicates that the proportion of women killed in 2023 doubled and that of children tripled, compared to the year prior," he said.

In the Gaza Strip, Turk expressed his shock at the parties involved in the conflict, condemning their blatant disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law, which he described as causing unconscionable death and suffering.

Since the war erupted after Hamas's unprecedented attack inside Israel on October 7, he said "more than 120,000 people in Gaza, overwhelmingly women and children, have been killed or injured ... as a result of the intensive Israeli offensives".

"Since Israel escalated its operations into Rafah in early May, almost one million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced yet again, while aid delivery and humanitarian access deteriorated further," he added.

Turk also highlighted conflicts in various regions such as Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Syria. Addressing the situation in Sudan, where a civil war has raged for over a year, he warned that the country is witnessing its destruction as two warring factions and their affiliates blatantly disregard the rights of their own people.

"As of the end of May 2024, the gap between humanitarian funding requirements and available resources stands at $40.8 billion," Turk noted.

"Appeals are funded at an average of 16.1 per cent only," he said.

"Contrast this with the almost $2.5 trillion in global military expenditure in 2023, a 6.8 percent increase in real terms from 2022," Turk said, stressing that "this was the steepest year-on-year increase since 2009 In addition to inflicting unbearable human suffering, war comes with a hefty price tag," he said.

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