A Russian airstrike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol left 17 people wounded on Wednesday, the latest attack against civilians as the Kremlin continues its assault on Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy tweeted that Russian troops had made a “direct strike” on the maternity hospital, calling it an “atrocity” and said: “People, children are under the wreckage.”
“How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror,” Zelenskyy tweeted. “Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity.”
The US and NATO have resisted Zelenskyy’s pleas to establish a no-fly zone, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying Wednesday that US interference could escalate the war.
A series of blasts on the complex in Mariupol destroyed the front of one building, shaking the ground in the port city that has come under heavy Russian attack, according to the Associated Press. At least 17 people were wounded in the blast, AP reported.
“We have certainly seen those reports,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “It is horrifying to see the type of barbaric use of military force to go after innocent civilians in a sovereign country.”
So far, nearly 2 million people have fled Ukraine as part of a growing refugee crisis. Cease-fires around several Ukrainian cities were announced to try to give civilians an opportunity to escape before fighting restarted.
In Mariupol, the city council posted a video on social media showing the battered buildings.
“The destruction is enormous,” the city council posted on Telegram. “The building of the medical institution where the children were treated recently was completely destroyed. Information about the affected children is being clarified.”
Those injured in the strike on the maternity hospital are the latest civilian casualties in a war that has already injured or killed more than 1,000 civilians.
Ace of March 8, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported 1,424 civilian casualties, including 516 civilians killed and 908 injured since Russia began its invasion on Feb. 24.
The true civilian toll of the war, though, is still unclear. The UN said its totals are likely to be an undercount of civilian casualties, and they have not been updated yet to reflect Wednesday’s blast in Mariupol.
Most of those civilian casualties have been the product of explosive weapons with the ability to inflict damage across a wide area and in different regions of Ukraine, according to the UN, “including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes.”
So far, at least 37 children have been killed and another 50 have been injured in the war.
“There are very credible reports of civilians coming under fire as they try to evacuate. Targeting civilians is a war crime and it’s totally unacceptable. We need real humanitarian corridors that are fully respected,” NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said recently. “We made clear for months that President (Vladimir) Putin would pay a high price for renewed aggression against Ukraine and that price is exactly what he’s paying now.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism