UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has said that at least 1,348 civilians, including 70 children, were killed during the battle of Mariupol.
Providing an update on the grave human rights and humanitarian situation in Mariupol at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Bachelet described the south eastern port city as “likely the deadliest place in Ukraine” from the start of the war through April.
She said the actual number of victims in the months-old Russian attack is likely thousands higher than what is recorded.
“These deaths were caused by airstrikes, tank and artillery shelling and small arms and light weapons during street fighting,” according to the UN High Commissioner.
“Bodies have been found in improvised individual or collective graves in yards, streets, and parks, in unattended houses and apartments. Many are still to be buried,” she said.
“The intensity and extent of hostilities, destruction and death and injury strongly suggest that serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross violations of international human rights law have occurred,” the UN human rights chief told the Council.
Mariupol’s massive Azovstal steel plant, Ukraine’s last stronghold in city, fell to Russian forces as nearly thousand Ukrainian soldiers who were holding out there were evacuated to Russian-controlled territory.
Blachet said the current situation in Mariupol is dire. A shattered and depleted city is left, with its remaining residents struggling daily with limited access to basic utilities and social services, such as medical care. Risks of infectious disease, including cholera, are being reported.
Many people either no longer have a place to live or live in damaged apartments, often with no windows, electricity, gas and running water. Many are heavily dependent on humanitarian aid from Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups and do not have means to sustain a livelihood. .
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union received a major boost on Friday, as its executive body, the European Commission, has recommended that Ukraine becomes an EU candidate state. Leaders of the 27-nation bloc will meet next week to discuss the process.
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