The Plight of Mariupol's Preemies: Babies abandoned as parents flee shattered city

“It's impossible to get out of the hospital. They're shooting hard, we sit in the basement,” head of the Ukrainian military in the Donetsk region said


                            The Plight of Mariupol's Preemies: Babies abandoned as parents flee shattered city
A polish firefighter carries a child who fled the war in Ukraine as they walk towards a humanitarian train to relocate refugees to Berlin on March 15, 2022, in Krakow, Poland (Omar Marques/Getty Images)
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WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT

As Russia’s brutality against Ukraine intensifies, it has been reported that several parents were forced to leave behind their premature babies in a Mariupol hospital as they fled to save themselves. Associated Press shared a very distressing photo of three babies abandoned in the hospital. Captioning the horrific image, the news agency wrote: “Three premature infants lie side by side, swaddled in blankets in a hospital in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, left by the parents who cannot care for them.”

“The bodies of people killed during Russian shelling lie wrapped in blankets Tuesday at the same hospital, No. 3. Piled against a wall, the horrific image is illuminated by a police officer’s flashlight,” it added. Reports also said that Vladimir Putin’s troops have held around 500 people hostage in a Mariupol hospital and despite multiple attempts to evacuate the city amid the raging war, nearly 350,000 are still trapped with almost no food and water.

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Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Ukrainian military in the Donetsk region, claimed that around 400 local residents and 100 hospital staff have been captured by the Russians in the hospital as human shields. He said, “It's impossible to get out of the hospital. They're shooting hard, we sit in the basement.”

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People who fled the war in Ukraine walk towards a humanitarian train to relocate refugees to Berlin on March 15, 2022 in Krakow, Poland. More than half of the roughly 3 million Ukrainians fleeing war have crossed into neighbouring Poland since Russia began a large-scale armed invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. (Photo by Omar Marques/Getty Images)

 

Kyrylenko added: “Cars can't drive to the hospital for two days already. High-rise buildings are burning around. Russians drove 400 people from neighboring houses into our hospital. We can't get out.” Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that hundreds of residents successfully evacuated the city in their cars but there were still many who needed help to reach a safe location. He also accused Russia of blocking the aid convoy, forcing them to be stuck at Berdyansk.

Vereshchuk noted: “Our side ensures a complete ceasefire. Russia, as usual, is cynically lying, thinking that people and the world do not see it and do not understand.” However, Moscow has denied the allegations and instead blamed Ukraine for failing to provide safe evacuation to its civilians since it attacked the country on February 24. Ewan Watson, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told a UN briefing in Geneva that locals are “essentially being suffocated in this city now with no aid.”

Besides, on Twitter, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) shared: “Right now, tens of thousands of families are living under the constant threat of danger in #Mariupol. They’re huddled in whatever shelter they can find. They have limited food and water. They’re terrified.”

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Screenshots showing the pregnant woman being carried outside the bombed hospital (Twitter/VOA)

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The revelations come after a disheartening incident in which a pregnant woman was killed with her baby after a maternity hospital in Mariupol was bombed by Russia. Surgeon Timur Marin, who attended the unnamed woman, said that the victim’s pelvis was destroyed in the attack and her hip was severed from her body. The doctor added: “More than 30 minutes of resuscitation of the mother didn’t produce results. Both died.”

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A newborn baby is seen in the bomb shelter of a maternity hospital on March 02, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Russian forces continued their advance on the Ukrainian capital for the seventh day as the country's invasion of its western neighbour goes on. Intense battles are also being waged over Ukraine's other major cities. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

 

Meanwhile, aid workers have pointed out the double standard of European nations while handling the refugee crisis. Marta Górczyńska, a human rights lawyer based in Warsaw, told Al Jazeera: “The situation is very different [now].” Górczyńska noted the different treatment received by the Ukrainian refugees and what people from Middle Eastern, Asian, and African countries had faced earlier while fleeing conflict. The lawyer said working on the Belarusian border, “you had to deal with the hostility from the [Polish] authorities, harassing and intimidating you, telling you that actually it’s not legal to help people who are crossing the border from Belarus to Poland.”

“There was a state of emergency introduced and a ban of entry to the border area, which meant that no humanitarian organizations, human rights organizations, or even journalists were allowed to enter,” she mentioned, before adding, “[Now], the Polish authorities [are] welcoming refugees fleeing Ukraine with open arms and providing them with assistance.”

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