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Ukraine crisis: The cost of war on civilians

Truth Hounds via the eyeWitness to Atrocities app

© Truth Hounds via the eyeWitness to Atrocities app

Apartment blocks scarred by bullets and artillery shells; windows blasted and shattered; roofs, ceilings and walls caved in; corrugated iron in tatters; and basic amenities such as electricity, water, and gas non-existent. A kitchen – visible through a collapsed ceiling – sits entombed by masonry and debris. Ukrainian firefighters work amid smoke and rubble. These are just some of the damages to 51 civilian homes in Ukraine captured with the eyeWitness to Atrocities (eyeWitness) camera app in 2017 and 2018. Verified by eyeWitness’ technology and legal team, they demonstrate how much conflict has already cost civilians in Ukraine.

In 2021, eyeWitness and the University of Essex’s Digital Verification Unit (DVU) submitted a report regarding these incidents to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing. The joint submission provided a careful examination of the images captured with the eyeWitness app, open source materials (such as police reports and social media posts), and historical satellite images. By placing the damages within the legal framework surrounding armed conflict, the submission showed that military attacks had not only destroyed civilian property, but also violated Ukrainian people’s inalienable right to adequate housing.

Now, almost exactly one year since the submission and with the potential threat of violence in Ukraine, we are re-releasing our report to highlight not only the impact of shelling on civilian property in Ukraine, but also how this shelling violates international treaties.

Read the full report.

Truth Hounds via the eyeWitness to Atrocities app

© Truth Hounds via the eyeWitness to Atrocities app

Anastasia Taylor-Lind via the eyeWitness to Atrocities app

© Truth Hounds via the eyeWitness to Atrocities app

Truth Hounds via the eyeWitness to Atrocities app

© Anastasia Taylor-Lind via the eyeWitness to Atrocities app

Justice: an ongoing fight in Ukraine

Sadly, the devastation of war continues. It has so far resulted in more than 3,400 civilian deaths and 7,000 injured civilians. 1.5 million have been internally displaced and more than 100,000 have been forced to seek asylum in other countries. As exposed by Truth Hounds, conflict is also leading to child statelessness and human trafficking, as well as extensive environmental damage.

Ongoing rigorous documentation of human rights violations, including damage to civilian homes and property, is key to securing justice for survivors in the future. Our report not only demonstrates the devastation caused to civilian communities in Ukraine, but also how digital technologies and verifiable images can be used in new ways to seek justice.

About the report

Images in both article and report captured by Truth Hounds, International Partnership for Human Rights, and independent photojournalist, Anastasia Taylor-Lind using the eyeWitness app.

Photo and video analysis conducted by eyeWitness.

Historical satellite imagery analysis conducted by eyeWitness and the DVU.

Open source investigation conducted by eyeWitness and DVU. Global Rights Compliance provided Ukrainian and Russian speakers to help with factual research.