Residents in the Ukraine city of Mariupol are being taken against their will into Russia, according to Ukraine officials.
Thousands of residents in the besieged Ukraine city of Mariupol are being abducted and sent to Russia, where they are being held prisoner, according to Ukraine officials.
"Over the past week, several thousand Mariupol residents have been taken to Russian territory," the Mariupol City Council said in a statement over the weekend. "The occupiers illegally took people from the Livoberezhny district and from the shelter in the sports club building, where more than a thousand people (mostly women and children) were hiding from the constant bombing."
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, America’s ambassador to the UN, said the U.S. had not yet confirmed the reports, which were echoed by Ukraine’s human rights spokesperson, Lyudmyla Denisova.
“I’ve only heard it. I can’t confirm it,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN. “But I can say it is disturbing. It is unconscionable for Russia to force Ukrainian citizens into Russia and put them in what will basically be concentration and prisoner camps.”
Ukraine authorities said the alleged abductions were tantamount to what the Nazis did in World War II, when they rounded up ordinary citizens from foreign countries and shipped them to concentration camps.
"What the occupiers are doing today is familiar to the older generation, who saw the horrific events of World War II, when the Nazis forcibly captured people," Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said in the city's statement. "It is hard to imagine that in the 21st century people can be forcibly taken to another country."
Denisova said on Telegram that Ukraine residents had been by shipped by rail to "various economically depressed cities in Russia," where they were issued "papers that require them to be in a certain city. They have no right to leave it for at least two years with the obligation to work at the specified place of work."
As the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops entered its fourth week, the United Nations reported that 10 million people, nearly 25 percent of the country's residents, had been forced to flee their homes as Russian forces intensified their bombings and street attacks in cities across Ukraine.
But the worst attacks are in the strategic, coastal town of Mariupol, where the elderly, women and children huddled in fear as Russians rained down fire on hospitals, schools, bomb shelters and a nursing home, according to Ukraine officials.
Ukraininan President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday the city represented “a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come." Residents have been without power or heat since the invasion's beginning. Officials have estimated that at least 2,300 people have been killed, many of them buried in mass graves.
Civilian bodies lie abandoned in the streets, said those who managed to escape.
On Monday, Ukraine rejected a demand from Russian President Vladimir Putin for Mariupol residents to put down their weapons and surrender in exchange for safe passage out of the shut-off city.
"There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms," Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk told the news outlet Ukrainian Pravda, rejecting the ultimatum from Russia. "We have already informed the Russian side about this."
Meanwhile, Russian forces continued their deadly effort to pound Mariupol into submission.