In the weeks since Russia launched its invasion, more than two million Ukrainian refugees have fled their homes. Many remain scattered across the continent. As evacuations took place, Russia previously promised to allow the country’s civilians to safely leave the site of the battle. At one point, the invading nation even offered “safe” harbor for refugees in Russia itself. Now though, many refugees possess first-hand accounts of human rights abuse on the side of the invading nation.
At a Glance
- Russia has reportedly committed war crimes, shooting and killing Ukrainian refugees.
- Ukrainian cities have run out of necessities amid the Russian bombardment.
- Evidence collection regarding Russian war crimes has begun, with an investigation to ensue.
Ukrainian Refugees Detail Grim Sightings While Evacuating
According to ABC News, increasing numbers of Ukrainian refugees have reported the Russian military is not only targeting civilian structures. More recently, Ukrainians fleeing active war sites have reported Russia has committed heinous war crimes, targeting refugees purposefully.
“It was very eerie,” said one eyewitness, Ihor Diekov. “The Russians promised to provide a (humanitarian) corridor which they did not comply with.”
Instead, Diekov reported, “They were shooting civilians…I witnessed it. People were scared.”
While crossing a makeshift bridge outside Kyiv, the Ukrainian refugee reported hearing gunshots and seeing corpses along the road.
Another Ukrainian refugee, Ilya Ivanov, stated, “[The Russians] shoot at civilians with machine guns.” The fleeing woman also reported sightings of civilian corpses.
“Worst-Case Scenario” Already Surpassed
Millions of refugees have managed to escape to Ukraine’s neighboring countries. Meanwhile, others remain displaced across Ukraine. Many evacuees have left among heavy shelling as some of the worst-stricken cities have completely run out of food, water, medicine, and other essentials.
Antonia Vitorino, the director-general for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), reported on the current crisis. He stated, it has become so extreme, we have already seen the “worst-case scenario” in the IOM’s contingency planning.
He also reported that Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking psychologists are badly needed, especially considering the increasing trauma refugees have suffered among Russian war crimes.
According to the news outlet, the United Nations human rights office reported 516 civilian deaths in Ukraine since the invasion began. Children account for 37 of those casualties. That said, the outlet reported the death toll is likely “considerably higher” as areas of “intense hostilities” have not been observed.
International Criminal Court Begins Investigations into Russian War Crimes
Russia drew international condemnation immediately after invading the European country. However, its military’s choice in bombing civilian institutions ignited a chain of worsening war crimes, resulting in international outcry. Now, the International Criminal Court prosecutor has begun an investigation into the reports at the urges of court members.
In speaking to the investigation on Thursday, Vice-President Kamala Harris said, “Absolutely there should be an investigation, and we should all be watching.”
Her call came as news spread over the bombing of the children’s hospital in Mariupol.