Thursday, 26 May 2022
WorldThe UN says that the once prosperous city of Mariupol in Ukraine...

The UN says that the once prosperous city of Mariupol in Ukraine ‘lies in ruins’

Mariupol and its residents have suffered “unimaginable horrors” since the Russian attack began, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Thursday.

The official expressed shock at the scale of destruction and multiple violations of international human rights law in the Ukrainian city.

During a special session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, which Russia did not attend, Bachelet said that since Moscow started the war against its neighbor on February 24, violations of international humanitarian law in the port city southern Ukraine have included “attacks on civilians and civilian objects”.

“A once-thriving city lies in ruins. We estimate the number of civilians killed in Mariupol to be in the thousands, while only with time will the true scale of atrocities, casualties and damage become clearer,” said the official from the UN.


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“Active hostilities are now focused on the Azovstal industrial area, with residential areas of the city now largely occupied by the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups,” the high commissioner said.

Bachelet said she is relieved that more than 500 civilians, including children and the elderly, were successfully evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant and other areas following the joint efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Red Crescent and the UN.

Bachelet said sick or wounded fighters should be allowed to evacuate as well to receive medical care.

sexual violence

“My office is investigating complaints of sexual violence and has verified a dozen cases throughout the country,” Bachelet reported.

“I am concerned about the reports of sexual violence that have emerged from areas of the kyiv region, which were previously under the control of the Russian armed forces. There were cases of rape and murder of victims or their relatives,” lamented the former Chilean president.

The UN human rights officer stated that survivors often do not wish to be interviewed due to fear and stigma.

“Women and girls are the most frequently cited victims; however, reports of affected men and boys are beginning to emerge,” added Bachelet.

The official cited extrajudicial executions, including indications of “shocking summary executions” in areas north of kyiv.

“To date, more than 1,000 civilian bodies have been recovered in the kyiv region alone. Some of these people were killed during the clashes. Others appear to have been summarily executed,” he said.

He said such killings of civilians often appear to be “intentional, carried out by snipers and soldiers” and his office has information on 300 such incidents.

Suspected of supporting Ukrainian forces

The High Commissioner for Human Rights said unarmed residents were killed because Russian soldiers suspected they were supporting Ukrainian forces or a potential threat, adding that some were tortured before being executed.

“In the village of Katiuzhanka, kyiv region, a young couple, their 14-year-old daughter and a grandfather were shot by Russian soldiers while trying to drive home. The parents were killed, while the girl received two gunshot wounds.” , he recounted.

The UN has recorded the destruction or damage of hundreds of educational and medical facilities, as well as tens of thousands of civilian homes due to the hostilities.

Ukraine’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova told the council: “The war in every sense of the word by Russia against my country and which was unprovoked is a war against all of us.”

“More than half a million of our citizens were forcibly deported to Russian territory and their whereabouts are unknown. Tortures and enforced disappearances, sexual and gender-based violence, and Russia’s list of crimes is endless,” she emphasized.

“Innocent civilians executed in the presence of their relatives, women raped in front of their children, children raped in front of their mothers like the 11-year-old boy who was raped in front of his mother,” Dzhaparova said.

At least 3,541 civilians have been killed and 3,785 others injured in Ukraine since Russia launched a war against the country on February 24, according to UN estimates.

The real number is feared to be much higher. In addition, more than 6 million people have fled to other countries, with some 7.7 million people internally displaced, data from the UN refugee agency shows.



*Aicha Sandoval Alaguna contributed to the writing of this article.

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