Residents of the besieged Mariupol, Ukraine, have reportedly complained to a human rights organization that invading Russian forces have occupied an intensive care hospital, and that “hospital staff and patients” are being held “hostage.”
In a Facebook post, the Media Initiative for Human Rights in Ukraine said that residents had contacted its hotline to report the Russian military occupation of the Mariupol Regional Intensive Care Hospital.
According to the post, the Russian military is refusing to release patients or staff from the hospital, threatening to shoot them if they attempt to leave. Those who have attempted to escape have apparently returned with “bullet injuries.”
“The Media Initiative for Human Rights calls on the international community to take all possible measures to stop the Russian Federation war crime, which is happening just at this moment, and to release doctors, patients, civilians who the Russian army holds hostage and uses as a living shield,” the translated post states.
In addition, Russian forces appear to be firing from the hospital windows, hoping for a response from Ukrainian soldiers.
“Residents of Mariupol have contacted the Media Human Rights Initiative (MHRI) hotline, saying that since yesterday morning (March 14) the Mariupol Regional Intensive Care Hospital (46 Troitska Street) has been occupied by the Russian troops,” Ukrainian journalist Anastasia Magazova reported on Twitter. “The staff and patients of the hospital are being held as hostages. One of the witnesses claims that Russian soldiers are forcing the other civilians there as well.”
“At the same time, Russians are firing at the positions of the Ukrainian army from the windows of the hospital, trying to provoke the fire in response. According to an eyewitness, the Russian soldiers do not let anyone leave the hospital, threatening to shoot,” Magazova continued.
The BBC reported that, according to the city’s Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov, around 400 people at the intensive care hospital have been taken hostage.
“We received information that the Russian army captured our biggest hospital,” Orlov said.
This isn’t the first Ukrainian hospital in Mariupol to fall under Russian attack. According to the Ukrainian government, a Russian airstrike destroyed a maternity hospital in Mariupol last week, in a direct hit leaving children buried underneath.
“An apparent Russian strike on Wednesday damaged and destroyed buildings at a hospital complex in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, including a maternity ward, according to several videos verified by The New York Times,” The New York Times reported, adding, “The city is part of a vital stretch of terrain that Russia is trying to capture in an apparent attempt to link Russian-backed separatist enclaves in the southeast with Crimea, the southern peninsula Russia seized in 2014.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted, “Mariupol. Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity.”
Mariupol. Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity. pic.twitter.com/FoaNdbKH5k
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 9, 2022