Ukraine: Mariupol locals 'being deported violently' says Berg
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The Ukrainian port city has endured more than three weeks of brutal Russian bombardment, reducing it to almost rubble. Terrified citizens have taken refuge in their basements and are desperately short of food, water and medicine. A senior official from Ukrainian President’s Office claimed recently that over 2,500 city residents had been killed during the current siege.
Reports have emerged over the last few weeks claiming thousands of citizens have been sent to Russia against their will.
Now a refugee from the port city confirmed that people were forcibly evacuated to Russia.
The refugee, now in Russia, told the BBC: “All of us were taken forcibly”.
It is an internationally-recognised abuse of human rights for a warring party to deport civilians to its territory.
Matt Morris, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), explained: “International humanitarian law requires that people should be allowed to leave, but should not be forced to leave.”
Some Ukrainian officials have called Russia’s actions “deportations” to “filtration” camps, evoking memories of Moscow’s war in Chechnya.
During the Chechen war, thousands of people were detained and interrogated in makeshift camps. Many of those arrested disappeared.
Mariupol’s city council says around 140,000 people have been evacuated from the besieged city, but around 170,000 are still trapped there.
Few have fled the city via the humanitarian corridors agreed by both sides.
Kyiv claims this is because Russian forces continued to shell the corridors in contravention to their agreement to allow people to leave safely.
Ukraine’s Defence Ministry claimed that Ukrainians were being sent to remote and economically deprived areas of Russia.
In a Facebook post, the Ministry said: “After passing the filtration camps Ukrainians are sent to economically depressive areas of the Russian Federation.
“A number of northern regions are called as a final destination, in particular – Sakhalin.
“Ukrainians are ‘offered’ official employment through employment centres.
“Those who agree receive documents banning leaving Russian regions for two years.”
It comes as anger in Ukraine towards the ICRC is growing over its alleged plans to set up an office in Rostov-on-Don in Russia.
Critics argue such a move would legitimise Russia’s deportations of Ukrainians.
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Ukrainian journalist Nina Kuriata has set up a petition and called on people to sign it.
She wrote: “Hey brothers and sisters, let’s sign a petition to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“Recently, for example, he shook hands with Lavrov and promised to create centres for Ukrainian refugees in Rostov-on-Don. It was in the news.
“But isn’t it problematic that Ukrainians are basically kidnapped to Russian territory?”
However, the ICRC has strenuously denied it plans to open offices in southern Russia to “filter” Ukrainians.
The organisation said: “This is not our role, we don’t do this. We are not opening a refugee camp.”
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