Russian invaders take Mariupol intensive care hospital and its patients hostage
See below for an appeal from Mariupol medics who "do not want to be heroes and martyrs posthumously" and plead that we remind the world, that we shout about catastrophe in Mariupol
Russian invading forces are preventing the staff and patients of the Regional Intensive Care Hospital in Mariupol from leaving the hospital and, according to one witness, have seized the hospital and are using those inside as living shields.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, Head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, reported on 15 March that the staff and patients had been taken hostage, citing a member of the hospital staff. Information has also been received by the Media Initiative for Human Rights who confirm that it came from a doctor, but can obviously not reveal the person’s identify out of safety concerns.
Kyrylenko quotes the source as saying that “You can’t leave the hospital. There is intensive shooting, we’re staying in the basement. Cars haven’t been able to get to the hospital for the last 48 hours. Highrise apartment blocks are burning all around us. The Russians have driven 400 people from neighbouring buildings to our hospital It’s impossible to leave.”
The doctors are continuing to treat patients in the basement area which has been adapted for hospital work, however the situation is clearly critical. Kyrylenko calls on international human rights organizations to respond to such flagrant war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In their slightly earlier report, the Media Initiative for Human Rights stated that Mariupol residents had managed to get through on their helpline and had said that the hospital had actually been seized by Russian forces since the morning of 14 March. A witness reported that the Russians had driven other residents into the hospital and that they were shelling at Ukrainian positions, with the patients and other residents thus being used as a human shield. The witness said that the Russian soldiers were not letting anybody out and threatening to shoot and kill any who tried. The person added that those patients who had attempted to break free returned with bullet wounds.
Such use of civilians as human shields is an appalling war crime, with the fact that many are hospital patients in need of intensive care making it especially shocking.
The report that the building itself has been seized cannot be independently verified. At present the Ukrainian Armed Forces are valiantly defending Mariupol, with this very clearly the reason why Russia’s bombing has been so savage and why Moscow has effectively taken the entire city hostage. Ukraine has been trying to organize an evacuation of civilians for well over a week. Each time they believed that safe passage had been agreed, the Russians began shelling again, with no let up either in the airstrikes against evidently civilian targets. These included the maternity and children’s hospitals which Russian bombed on 9 March. The death toll from that barbaric attack now stands at six, after doctors were unable to save either the pregnant woman who was badly injured in the Russian attack or her unborn baby. Russia has tried to claim, against all evidence, that the hospital was being used by Ukrainian soldiers and has used its disinformation machine to try to present the patients photographed, including the young woman who died, as ‘actors’.
Russia is continuing to block proper evacuation of residents by coaches, and only finally allowed a first convoy of around 160 private cars to leave Mariupol on 14 March. On 15 March, Iryna Vereshchuk, Minister for the Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territory, reported that humanitarian aid had still not been able to enter Mariupol, and humanitarian corridors for proper evacuation remained blocked. Ukraine’s warnings have been reiterated by international organizations that Russia’s bombing and shelling is giving rise to a humanitarian catastrophe with the city running out of food, water and medical supplies, and with most, if not all, of the city deprived of heating, electricity and running water.
Such cynical hostage-taking and deliberate targeting of civilians, as well as the mass graves in which the victims of Russian attacks have to be buried because of the constant bombing and shelling, are what Russia claims is its ‘special military operation to demilitarize and denazify’ Ukraine.
An appeal from Mariupol medics posted by the Azov Battalion which is defending the city from the Russian invaders
If you think that you imagine the scale of the catastrophe in Mariupol from Russia’s crimes, you probably cannot even come close to imagining it. We medics, while subjected, around the clock, to enemy airstrikes and shelling, are tyring to help not only military, but also civilian [patients]. Because ambulances are not working and nobody is helping anybody.
And each bomb, Grad missile, destruction, that is not simply ‘the wounded’. It is arms and legs ripped away; eyes knocked out; bodies ridden with shrapnel; insides blown out. I understand that it is painful to hear this as, among the wounded and dead, may possibly be your relatives and loved ones.
But listen as you have to understand the situation and act. Remind people of Mariupol. Shout about it. Because we do not want to be heroes and martyrs posthumously, we want to live and rebuild our devastated Ukraine.