An injured pregnant woman walks downstairs in a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol. AP/PA Images

Mariupol residents face food and gas shortages as EU calls attack on hospital a war crime

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney described the attack on the hospital as an “unspeakable act of cruelty”.

LAST UPDATE | Mar 10th 2022, 8:23 PM

MARIUPOL IS FACING an “apocalyptic” situation, with no water, power or heat for more than a week as Russian forces bombard it, the Red Cross has said.

Attempted evacuations of civilians have failed, with Ukraine and Russia accusing each other of ceasefire violations. 

“People started to attack each other for food. People started to ruin someone’s car to take the gasoline out,” said Mariupol-based representative of the International Committee of Red Cross Sasha Volkov.

“Many have no water at all for drinking. All the shops and pharmacies were looted four to five days ago,” Volkov said.

“Some people still have food but I’m not sure for how long it will last. Many people report having no food for children.”

The EU branded Russia’s air strike of a children’s hospital in Mariupol that left at least three people dead, including a young girl, a war crime.

Local officials confirmed earlier today that three people were killed in the air strike on the hospital, with 17 people being confirmed as injured, including doctors.

“Three people were killed, including a female child, in yesterday’s attack on a children’s and maternity hospital in Ukraine’s besieged Mariupol, according to updated figures this morning,” the city council said on its Telegram channel.

“The Russian forces are destroying Mariupol’s civilian population deliberately and without mercy,” the city council said.

The attack on the children’s hospital, described by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a “war crime”, triggered international indignation.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen both described the act as a war crime. 

Save the Children’s Eastern Europe Director, Irina Saghoyan, said in a statement today: “It’s horrifying that a place people seek for help has become one of absolute and utter destruction.

“Where can families and children turn to if even hospitals are not safe? They must not become the battlefields where conflicts rage and innocent children are the casualties.”

Russia’s foreign ministry did not deny the attack but accused Ukrainian “nationalist battalions” of using the hospital to set up firing positions after moving out staff and patients.

Russian minister hit out at the UN spreading what he described as “fake news”. 

The Kremlin said this morning that it would approach the Russian military for details of a strike on the hospital. 

“We will certainly ask our military about this, since we don’t have clear information about what happened there. Without fail, the military will provide some kind of information,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, as Moscow’s advance into Ukraine entered its third week.

Video shared from the site by rescue workers showed a scene of complete devastation, with the wounded being evacuated, some on stretchers, past charred and burning carcasses of cars and a massive crater by the building.

Inside, debris, shattered glass and splintered wood littered corridors, administrative offices and bedrooms, with mattresses thrown from their frames.

The White House slammed the “barbaric” use of force against civilians, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the attack “depraved”.

A UN spokesman said no health facility “should ever be a target”.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney described the attack on the hospital as an “unspeakable act of cruelty”. 

The attack came as women were in labour inside, the regional military administration in Donetsk told AFP.

Talks in Turkey

Ukraine and Russia made no progress towards agreeing a 24-hour ceasefire at tense talks in Turkey today, the Ukrainian foreign minister said.

“We also talked on the ceasefire but no progress was accomplished on that,” minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Antalya.

He described the meeting as “difficult”.

russia-ukraine-war-day-in-photos A woman walks outside a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine. AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

Speaking after the talks, Lavrov claimed his country “did not attack Ukraine”.

Lavrov accused the EU and other countries of ”dangerously” backing the supply of arms to Ukraine. 

Moscow’s forces have continued making rapid advances towards the capital, approaching Brovary, a large eastern suburb, AFP journalists saw.

Fighting has intensified in the area, with Ukrainian forces trying to repel the Russian tanks, residents and volunteer Ukrainian forces told AFP.

“They shoot to scare people and force them to stay at home, steal what they can to get supplies and settle among the inhabitants, so that the Ukrainian forces do not bomb them,” said Volodymyr, a 41-year-old resident of Velyka Dymerka, 15 kilometres from Brovary.

Overnight, the Ukrainian General Staff said Russian forces were continuing their “offensive operation” to encircle Kyiv, while pressing attacks on a string of other cities across the country.

US rejects fighter jet plan

Russia’s war has sent around 2.2 million refugees across Ukraine’s borders in what the United Nations has called Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.

The conflict has raised fears of a nuclear accident in a country with major nuclear plants and the site of the Chernobyl disaster.

The UN’s atomic watchdog said yesterday it saw “no critical impact on safety” at Chernobyl, location of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986, despite a loss of power there.

But it warned it was not receiving updates from either Chernobyl or Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, which is also now under Russian control. 

russia-ukraine-war-day-in-photos Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol. AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

The United States meanwhile rejected Russian claims that it was involved in bioweapons research in Ukraine, and warned Russia could be preparing to use chemical or biological weapons in the war.

Washington has strongly backed Ukraine, leading the push for tough international sanctions and sending weapons and other aid

But it has ruled out enforcing a no-fly zone and rejected a Polish plan to transfer fighter jets via a US air base for fear of being drawn into the conflict directly.

– © AFP 2022

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