Ukraine calls for worsening conditions in ‘medieval ghetto’ Mariupol

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A local resident walks past a burnt bus during the Ukrainian-Russian conflict in the port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine on April 19, 2022.REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

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Natalia Zinetz and Max Hender

Kyiv (Reuters) – Ukrainian officials issued a dire warning on Wednesday about the fate of Mariupol’s civilians and last few fighters, after the city’s mayor said bombing of the city had turned it into a “medieval ghetto”. “.

Human rights monitor Lyudmyla Denisova called on the United Nations and the Red Cross to help evacuate wounded fighters hiding in the southern city’s huge steel factory, saying the destruction of makeshift hospitals there meant many died.

“The invaders did not give the wounded army a chance to survive,” she wrote on Telegram. “Due to the lack of antibiotics, medical equipment and sterile dressings, there is a risk of infection and doctors are forced to amputate (the wounded) even with minor injuries.”

Reuters could not verify conditions at the sprawling Azovstal steel plant or reports of the destruction of an underground hospital earlier this week.

Russia, which denies targeting civilians, had no immediate comment on Denisova’s statement.

Denisova called on the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to take “all possible measures to protect and assist wounded civilians who are no longer combatants”.

She said hundreds were estimated to have been wounded among the more than 1,000 fighters still working at the steel plant. These figures cannot be independently confirmed.

‘living hell’

Ukrainian officials said Russia continued its attack on the Azov Stahl plant on Wednesday after occupying the rest of the strategic port city on the Sea of ​​Azov.

“Azovstal is on fire again after the bombing. If there is hell on earth, it will be there,” Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to Mayor Vadym Boichenko, wrote on Telegram.

Kyiv said tens of thousands of people may have been killed in Mariupol since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and laid siege to the city, which was cut off from food, water, electricity and heating a few weeks ago.

Mariupol was home to more than 400,000 people before the war, but is now an urban wasteland. Local authorities said Mariupol had 150,000 to 170,000 inhabitants after a mass evacuation arranged by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“The (Russian) occupiers have turned Mariupol into a medieval ghetto,” Boychenko, who left the city, said on state television.

“Without medicines and medical care, and without the restoration of urban water and drainage, epidemics will break out. Today, the majority of the existing population is old, infirm, and disabled. Without the right conditions, the mortality rate of vulnerable groups will increase exponentially. .”

Moscow said its “special military operation” was aimed at disarming Ukraine and ridding it of what it called anti-Russian nationalists. Ukraine and the West have called this a false pretext for launching an unprovoked war of aggression.

(Reporting by Max Hunder from London for this article, writing by Timothy Heritage, editing by Gareth Jones)

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