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UN Reports 72% Surge In Civilian Deaths In Global Conflicts

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Global conflicts killed three times as many children and twice as many women in 2023 compared to the previous year, with overall civilian deaths rising by 72 per cent, the United Nations (UN) reported on Tuesday.

UN rights chief Volker Turk told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that warring parties are increasingly violating legal and acceptable boundaries, showing “utter contempt for human rights.”

He highlighted the daily killings and injuries of civilians and the destruction of vital infrastructure.

Describing the situation, Turk said:

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

The UN rights chief said his office had gathered data indicating that last year, the number of civilian deaths in armed conflict soared by 72 per cent.

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.

Turk expressed disappointment at the disregard for international laws by conflict parties and the resulting suffering in Gaza. Since the conflict escalated after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, over 120,000 people in Gaza, primarily women and children, have been killed or injured due to intensive Israeli offensives.

Turk said since Israel’s escalation in Rafah in early May, almost one million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced, while aid and humanitarian access have worsened.

He also pointed to conflicts in Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, and Sudan, noting that Sudan is being destroyed by its warring parties, who disregard their people’s rights.

According to Turk, funding is decreasing despite the rising need for humanitarian aid.

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

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

He added that this contrasts with the nearly $2.5 trillion global military expenditure in 2023, which saw a 6.8 per cent increase from 2022, marking the steepest rise since 2009.

Turk emphasised that war causes immense human suffering and comes with a high financial cost.

Read more: Childhood Diabetes Rises In Sweden, Covid-19 A Possible Factor — Report

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