Chernihiv nearing humanitarian catastrophe, human rights commissioner says

22 March 2022, 05:21 PM

The outskirts of the city of Chernihiv have been completely destroyed by invading Russian troops, along with 60% of its suburbs, Parliamentary Human Rights Commissioner Lyudmyla Denisova said on her Telegram channel on March 22.

Half of the population left the Ukrainian city, which is located to the north east of the capital Kyiv, and of about 130,000 who remained many are sick and infirm.

“The city of Chernihiv is on the very edge of survival,” Denisova’s report reads.

The city pumps water to various communities throughout the city, but now there is no electricity supply for the pumps, which has consequently paralyzed the city’s water supply.

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There is almost no snow left, hence nothing to melt water from. At the same time, it is also impossible to organize emergency supplies from water sources due to constant shelling.

“(Water service company) Vodokanal staff are heroically working under shelling, delivering water to city communities and critical infrastructure facilities, including hospitals, thermal power plants and more. To increase the supply of water, the city needs additional storage tankers,” Denisova said.

There is no electricity in any part of Chernihiv. The availability of gas supplies is patchy. Repairs are impossible to make because of the constant shelling. Most remaining Chernihiv residents have started to cook food on fires in their yards, even under incessant shelling.

Due to the huge level of destruction of infrastructure, in order to repair the electrical and heating networks the city needs spare parts, tools, kits for the operation and repair of equipment.

“The exits from Chernihiv towards Kyiv are mine-strewn. Those daring to leave should opt for ‘forest trails’. They are currently being used to deliver humanitarian aid. But once the warm weather sets in, these trails will be washed away. The city will end up under a complete blockade,” Denisova said.

The torture of civilians by Russian forces should be considered genocide of the Ukrainian people under the definition of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Denisova said.

Moreover, the actions of the Russian army to destroy peaceful cities are a gross violation of the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, concerning protection for the victims of international armed conflicts, she said.

“I appeal to the International Committee of the Red Cross to take all possible measures to open safe humanitarian corridors in Ukraine for the evacuation of civilians from areas of active hostilities and occupation,” Denisova said.

“I ask NATO member states to close the skies over Ukraine!”

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