Kyiv, Jun 16 (EFE).- Up to 22,000 people have been buried in mass graves in the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which has been under Russian occupation since May, Ukrainian authorities claimed Thursday.
“Today, according to our estimates, between 20,000 and 22,000 people are already buried in mass graves,” Petr Andryushchenko, advisor to the Mariupol mayor, said in televised statements cited by the Unian news agency.
“How many more are under the rubble is unknown.”
The advisor added that Russian forces did not “bother” to look for bodies and remove them during their clean-up operation of the occupied city.
“Basically, they just rake everything up and take it to a landfill. Let’s be honest, we will never know all those who were taken out in this way. And we will never find them,” Andryushchenko added.
The official reported that the health care system under Russian rule was serving fewer people in one day than one specialist department served in the pre-war state.
“All this suggests that there is simply no medical system. There are no medicines, no equipment, what was available, has been taken to Donetsk or Russia,” Andryushchenko warned.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet estimated Thursday that at least 1,348 civilians, including 70 children, were killed during the siege of Mariupol.
The extent of hostilities in Mariupol indicates that “serious international law violations” have taken place there, Bachelet said before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Civilian deaths were caused by airstrikes, tank and artillery shelling and light weapons during street fighting, according to Bachelet, stressing “the actual death toll of hostilities on civilians is likely thousands higher.”
Up to 90% of the residential buildings and 60% of the houses have been damaged or destroyed in Mariupol, which resulted in the forced displacement of around 350,000 people.
“The humanitarian situation is devastating, with civilians continuing to bear the brunt of this conflict,” Bachelet said.
She also added that the “Russian air attack on the Mariupol drama theater on 16 March stands out among the very deadliest and most emblematic examples of the harm caused to civilians.”
The theater, where hundreds of civilians were taking shelter, had signs that clearly indicated there were children inside, Bachelet pointed out.
Earlier this week, the mayor of Mariupol, Vadim Boychenko claimed that Russian troops had killed more than 22,000 Mariupol residents, which is twice as many as the Nazis killed in two years during World War II.
He also said that the number of mass graves around Mariupol was growing.
“They destroyed 50% of our residential buildings, that is, they reduced them to ashes. They have done more damage than the Nazis in two years of occupation. I remind you that between 1941 and 1943 the fascists, Hitler, killed more than 10,000 people,” Boychenko said.