Residents of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol have been taken against their will to Russia by Russian troops, the city council alleged over the weekend.

The Ukrainians who were taken were sent to camps where Russian forces checked documents and phones before redirecting them to remote areas within Russia, the council’s statement continued.

"Over the past week, several thousand Mariupol residents have been taken to Russian territory," the city said in a statement, according to CNN. "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."


Mariupol is a port city on the southern coast of the country, near the Sea of Azov, which connects the eastern region of the Donbas with the Crimean peninsula, both of which have been under Russian control since 2014. In the three-plus weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine, Mariupol has been targeted repeatedly, and some of the worst instances of civilian casualties and civilian targeting have taken place there.

"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 statement. "It is hard to imagine that in the 21st century people can be forcibly taken to another country.”

Russian forces shelled a local maternity hospital last week where at least 17 women and staff members were injured and five people died, including a pregnant mother and her unborn child. This was one of 18 attacks on health facilities, personnel, and ambulances that have been "verified" in Ukraine, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday. Christo Grozev, an investigator with Bellingcat, a global investigatory platform, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday that Russia is responsible for “more than 350 incidents that have caused harm to civilians."

More recently, Russian forces bombed a Mariupol theater where “more than 1,000 people” were taking refuge, and a “majority stayed alive after bombing,” Iuliia Mendel, a Ukrainian journalist and former spokeswoman for President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Thursday. The shelter had written the word “children” in Russian in front of and behind the theater, but it was still targeted.

The city council referred to this attack as an act of “genocide of the Ukrainian people.”


Maj. Denis Prokopenko, a member of the Nation Guard Above Regiment, told CNN that Mariupol is “usually” under “fire during the whole day and night,” adding that "sometimes there (are) 30 minutes of silence, but then the city is again under attack (from) tanks, artillery, multiple rockets, and (aircraft) like bombers and helicopters.”

He also said that Ukrainians in Mariupol are afraid to leave the underground shelters, even to get essentials, as a result of the continued attacks. The city does not have gas, electricity, or water, while bodies are being left in the streets because people are afraid to retrieve them.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported on Saturday that there have been 847 civilians killed, while another 1,399 have been wounded. More than 60 children were among those who have been killed. They warned that the tolls are both likely "considerably higher," but information can be hard to verify in the middle of a war.

The U.N. International Organization for Migration said the number of refugees eclipsed the 3 million mark on Tuesday, and the number is slightly below 3.4 million as of Sunday morning.