Russian Federation uses Patients and Doctors of the Mariupol Regional Hospital as a “Human Shield” – is a War Crime

We, the Ukrainian National Center for Peacebuilding and the Vostok SOS Charitable Foundation, are appealing to the international community, the European Union, NATO Member States, international humanitarian and judicial organizations, and democratic governments to take urgent measures to prevent the russian federation from using civilian population in Mariupol as “human shield” to cover up Russian military operations.

For over 3 days about half a thousand people have been trapped in the basement of the half-ruined Regional Intensive Care Hospital in Mariupol. They were taken hostage because of the Russian military ban on leaving the hospital. In fact, the Russian military uses the blocked civilian population as a “human shield” to protect the Russian armed forces and cover up their military operations.

Civilian shelling continues around the hospital, and high-rise buildings are on fire. Ambulances are not allowed in the hospital. There is no contact with the staff and patients of the hospital. It is not possible to assess the presence of sufficient drinking water, food and necessary medicines for the treatment of people trapped in the basement.

According to the Media Initiative for Human Rights, “the Russian military does not release anyone from the hospital, threatening to shoot. And those patients who risked escape from captivity returned with bullet wounds.

Since the beginning of the attack of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine and the mass shelling of the city of Mariupol, the Regional Hospital for Intensive Care has been practically destroyed by the Russian military. Floor slabs fell in the main building – as a result of bombing. Russian soldiers, being inside of hospital premises, are conducting shelling from hospital buildings. Staff and patients continue to hide in the basement, working and treating as much as it is still possible.

It is crucially important to force the Russian Federation to stop terrorist attacks on the hostage of civilians in peaceful Ukrainian cities and to stop shelling protected facilities – hospitals, maternity healthcares, schools and kindergardens, geriatric nursing facilities, medical transport, etc.

The requirement also concerns the provision of security guarantees for the evacuation of civilians through humanitarian corridors from besieged cities on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe and the creation of opportunities to restore the critical civilian infrastructure of these settlements.

For reference: the use of “human shields” is a separate type of war crime, the prohibition of the use of “human shields” is also enshrined in Article 28 of the IV Geneva Convention, Article 51 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions and Rule 97 of customary international humanitarian law.

The siege by the Russian armed forces of the city of Mariupol, where about 400,000 people live, has been going on for 17 days. There is no electricity, water or gas in the whole city, no mobile communication and no access to the TV signal. The territory of the city borders on the temporarily occupied territory of Donetsk region. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation continue to consistently destroy the entire civilian infrastructure of the city of many thousands, along with its inhabitants.