Russian troops reportedly took hospital patients and staff as hostages at a hospital in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Monday and into Tuesday.
Media Human Rights Initiative (MHRI), a Ukrainian organization, shared a post on Facebook on Tuesday, describing the alleged hostage situation. In a translation of their post, the organization said, Mariupol residents reached out to the organization’s hotline and said Russian troops have been occupying the Mariupol Regional Intensive Care Hospital on 46 Troitskaya Street since Monday morning.
MHRI went on to say staff and patients are being held hostage at the hospital. Some witnesses told the organization that the Russian troops were either “driving out” or forcing other civilians in the area into the hospital.
MHRI further alleged the Russian troops have also begun firing at nearby Ukrainian forces from the hospital windows in an effort to provoke Ukrainian forces to fire back, while risking the lives of civilians.
MHRI shared further eyewitness claims that some hostages attempting to escape the hospital had been wounded by gunfire.
“The Media Initiative for Human Rights calls on the international community to take all possible measures to stop the ongoing war crime in the Russian Federation and to release doctors, patients and civilians held hostage by the Russian army and used as human shields,” MHRI said.
Civilians have repeatedly been caught in the middle of the fighting in Ukraine. Last week, the Ukrainian government assessed that Russian forces “deliberately bombed” another hospital in Mariupol. The attack targeted a maternity ward and children’s hospital. The exact extent of the damage and casualties at the hospital was unknown, but children were among those reportedly trapped in collapsed portions of the structure.
The city of Mariupol has been nearly cut off from the rest of Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion more than two weeks ago and it has been the scene of intense fighting. Buildings throughout the city have been heavily damaged and the area is reportedly without power, heat and running water.
“A [gut]-wrenching bird’s eye view of the hell that Russian forces have unleashed on Mariupol, where more than 2,000 people have been killed,” Buzzfeed correspondent Christopher Miller tweeted on Monday, with drone footage taken from a flight over part of the city. “There’s no power, no heat, no running water. Food is running out. Video shared by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.”
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian government said it tried to send humanitarian supplies to the besieged city, but were blocked by Russian forces, Reuters reported. The day before, the Russian side said it would allow a “humanitarian corridor” for civilians to leave the city, about a week after a previous corridor offer fell through. About 160 cars were reportedly able to leave the city on Monday, with about 300 of the city’s residents.