Mariupol 'horrors' will leave 'indelible mark’

AFP

3 min read
A Russian serviceman stands guard near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on June 13, 2022.
YURI KADOBNOV / AFPA Russian serviceman stands guard near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on June 13, 2022.

'Between February and the end of April, Mariupol was likely the deadliest place in Ukraine'

The extent of death and destruction in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol suggests serious international law violations, the UN rights chief said Thursday, warning the horrors would mark future generations.

Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Michelle Bachelet painted a grim picture of one of the bloodiest chapters so far in Russia's war in Ukraine.

"Between February and the end of April, Mariupol was likely the deadliest place in Ukraine," she said, in an update on the situation in the strategic port city, now held by Moscow.

"The intensity and extent of hostilities… strongly suggest that serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross violations of international human rights law have occurred," she added.

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Russia declared victory in May in its months-long operation to capture Mariupol, after Ukraine ordered the last of its troops holed up in the city's steelworks to lay down their arms.

The three months of battles sent hundreds of thousands of people running for their lives and caused untold suffering and death. Bachelet said that her staff verified 1,348 civilian deaths in the city, including 70 children.

But she acknowledged that "the actual death toll of hostilities on civilians is likely thousands higher."

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Moscow's offensive on Mariupol drew multiple accusations of war crimes, including over attacks on a maternity ward and a theater, where hundreds of mainly women and children were sheltering.

While the shelling has faded, Bachelet warned that residents left behind are "struggling daily with limited access to basic utilities and social services, such as medical care."

She warned that "the horrors inflicted on the civilian population will leave their indelible mark, including on generations to come." 

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