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About a hundred doctors from Mariupol remain in captivity

Russians began their siege of Mariupol on March 1, subjecting the city to non-stop artillery shelling and airstrikes. Civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, was also a target. MIHR wrote earlier about Hospital No. 4 in east Mariupol which was facing a humanitarian catastrophe and had to treat patients without power, in rooms with shattered windows. Moreover, as Doctor Oksana Kyrsanova told MIHR, on March 10 Russian soldiers captured the Mariupol Regional Intensive Care Hospital, firing at anyone trying to approach the building while holding residents of nearby buildings hostage inside the hospital. With some hospitals captured and others unable to keep up with the amount of incoming patients, many civilians had to be taken to military hospitals. One of those was Hospital No. 555 (on the photo below).

After the invasion began, its personnel had no time to rest. According to Yulia, military doctor who worked there, a lot of civilians were brought to them, including children.

«Our doctors had to operate in body armor and helmets. We slept and ate like that for days without taking them off,» says Yulia.

Her husband, Anton, who serves in rear support troops, was also stationed at the 555th. The couple had to bring their 3-year-old with them as it was too dangerous to leave the child with the neighbors, under shelling. They kept working non-stop until March 15, when a Russian bomber dropped a bomb on the hospital.

«The ceiling just dropped. Some managed to dig themselves out, some never got the chance,» recalls Yulia.

It was decided to take the patients to the nearest bunker. Some of them ended up at the Azovstal steelworks, others at the Illich steelworks, where soldiers of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade, as well as a contingent of Ukrainian border guards and National Guard, were stationed. Doctors from Dnipro were also sent there to help. Anton stayed with them while Yulia managed to get out of Mariupol with their child.On March 23, she found out that Anton had been injured while transporting patients. He was eventually taken prisoner.

 

ХХХ

Russia is holding about a hundred medical workers that were captured at the Illich steelworks along with Ukrainian soldiers. Their families knew next to nothing about the captives until mid-June. In response to all their inquiries, Ukrainian authorities were saying that the medics were considered missing. It wasn’t until later that they were finally acknowledged as POWs.

Russia, however, still hasn’t acknowledged the medics’ capture. Their families believe, it’s because Russia is using Ukrainian doctors for treating Russian soldiers as well as Ukrainians who were injured while in captivityA released servicewoman confirmed this to MIHR.

«They kept us in cells, 40 people in each. Sometimes medics were asked to treat both their wounded and those who worked at the pretrial detention center,» she told us. «Russia is refusing to recognize many of these people as POWs, both women and men from various brigades. Hospitals are no exception here.»

According to the witness, first, they were held at a correctional facility in Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast. On April 19, most of the women were taken to a pretrial detention center in Russia’s Taganrog. Some of the men were left in Olenivka while others were transferred to Kursk or Rostov.

A medical worker reacts after he failed to save the life of Marina Yatsko’s 18 month-old son Kirill, who was fatally wounded by shelling, at a hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, March 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

MIHR promptly publishes all stories on the website. For more information, please contact: mihr.ngo@gmail.com.

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