War in Ukraine: The "horrors" of Mariupol will leave "an indelible mark"

“Between February and the end of April, Mariupol was probably the deadliest place in Ukraine,” she told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, presenting an updated report from the situation in this strategic port, the scene of a fierce battle.

“The intensity and extent of the fighting, the destruction, (the number of) dead and injured strongly suggest that serious violations of international humanitarian law and serious violations of international human rights law have taken place” , she added.

Ms Bachelet emphasized “the parents who had to bury their own children, the people who saw their friends commit suicide, the torn families, all those who had to leave a beloved city without being sure to see it again”.

She said her administration had already established that 1,348 civilian deaths, including 70 children, were directly linked to the violent clashes that largely destroyed the city.

“These deaths were caused by airstrikes, tank and artillery fire as well as small arms and light weapons during street fighting,” she said.

But she acknowledged that “the true toll of the fighting on civilians is probably several thousand higher”.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights estimated that up to 90% of the city’s residential buildings had been damaged or destroyed, while around 350,000 people were forced to leave the city, according to Ms. Bachelet.

Located on the Sea of ​​Azov, which overlooks the Black Sea, the port of Mariupol was before the Russian offensive in Ukraine, launched on February 24, the second most important civilian port in Ukraine after that of Odessa.

The Kremlin announced its conquest on April 21, after fighting that left the city largely destroyed. But the last Ukrainian defenders on the spot, entrenched in the huge Azovstal steelworks, only surrendered about a month later, after almost three months of fighting.

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