mercoledì 9 dicembre 2015

UN report on the Ukrainian conflict: counting casualties

The United Nations Human Rights Council has released a report about the situation in Ukraine, based on data collected from August to November, 2015.
It contains a lot of interesting data — whether their report is biased, that's a different matter; but I do believe that they wouldn't lie on raw data —, some of which I'm sure the Western press is going to ignore. I want to focus just on one particular aspect, for the time being.

Who is striking civilian areas?

Of course, we all know that both sides are using low-precision weapons, and civilians are getting hit as a result. But it would also be unfair to put everyone on the same basket, without having a look at the numbers. On page 6, the report tells us:
27. On the Government-controlled territories, 87 civilian casualties (24 deaths and 63 injured) were recorded. The 24 fatalities included 22 adults and two children. Of 63 injured: 57 were adults and six were children.
28. In the territories controlled by the ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ and ‘Luhansk people’s republic’, 91 civilian casualties (23 deaths and 68 injured) were recorded. Of 23 killed: 22 were adults and one was a child. Of 68 injured: 64 were adults and four were children.
So, we have approximately the same number of civilian casualties in the Government-controlled and in the rebel-held areas: 87 versus 91. But then, the way in which these people were hit is significantly different (page 7, bottom):
Don't be fooled by the clever usage of colours here (nice trick, by the way)! The graphs are substantially different: while the one on the left shows that shelling from rebel positions can be accounted responsible for 18 casualties (21% of 87), shelling from government positions accounts to 52 casualties (57% of 91)!
Most other deaths are caused by mines and unexploded devices, for which the side which we should generally hold responsible is the side in which these accidents occur (as they mined the area in the first place, or didn't do a good job in clearing it from unexploded bombs). Let's visualize the data in a table:
Government forces Rebels
Shelling 52 18
Mines and unexploded bombs 58 35
Road incidents
(drunken driving)
4 0
Total 114 53

(Note that I didn't include deaths from small arms and other unknown reasons, as without knowing more about these accidents it's impossible to put the blame on anyone.)

Anyway, the numbers speak for themselves. How does your favourite news source present this UN report?

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