Residents of Ukraine’s besieged Mariupol port city are burying the dead on the roadside in serious makeshift after weeks of continuous bombardment by Russian forces in the ongoing invasion.
Andrei, a resident of the southern Ukrainian city identified only by his first name, told Reuters that he dug a serious makeshift on the side of a road opposite a bombed apartment building to bury his neighbours.
He said they were advised by Ukraine’s military to store the bodies in cold bases but as they were already filled with people taking shelter, residents were now forced to bury bodies by digging up makeshift graves.
“I hope there will be some sort of a reburial and this is just temporary,” he said.
Mr Andrei said the person he was burying was not killed by Russian shells or grenades like many others, but died after failing to get medical help for previous ailments because of the invasion.
Warning: the article contains some sensitive images that may offend or disturb some
In what was called an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Mariupol, chilling images showed hundreds of people being buried in newly dug mass graves amid overflowing morgues and lack of those who could perform proper burials.
Mariupol, a key strategic target for Russia, has around 300,000 people trapped inside and cut off from the rest of the world because it has been encircled by Russian soldiers for more than two weeks.
The city’s residents are without power, running water or heat. Medical and food supplies diminishing as well because aid is blocked from being supplied.
Russia’s siege of Mariupol is “a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come,” Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday.
Sharing an image of dead bodies being put in a narrow mass grave, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said 1,582 civilians have died in 12 days.
“Besieged Mariupol is now the worst humanitarian catastrophe on the planet,” he said. “Unable to defeat the Ukrainian Army, [Vladimir] Putin bombs the unarmed and blocks humanitarian aid. We need plans to stop Russian war crimes!”
A resident of the city posted a video online on Sunday in an attempt to show the world what is really happening.
“In the city center, it’s a real meat grinder: This land is soaked in blood, bitterness and despair,” the resident said, showing empty streets, stores stripped of supplies by citizens and broken windows.
“The world doesn’t know what’s happening here,” the narrator announced as he walked past blown-out buildings. “It’s terrible.”
The residents are resorting to cutting down trees for firewood and melting snow to survive. Others said they are breaking open heating systems to find potable water.
“We hope for the best – to live as human beings. The apartment block is destroyed, everything is destroyed. Where can we go from the basement?” Irina Chernenko, a librarian at the university, who has taken shelter in a basement for the past 11 days, said.
Ukrainian officials have rejected a Russian demand to lay down arms and raise white flags on Monday in exchange for safe passage to residents out of the city.
“There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms,” Ukrainian deputy prime minister Irina Vereshchuk told the news outlet Ukrainian Pravda. “We have already informed the Russian side about this.”
Additional reporting by agencies
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.