Ukraine: Amnesty International denounces the death of hundreds of civilians in Kharkov due to prohibited weapons | International

The two main cities of Ukraine were a priority target for Russian troops as soon as the invasion began on February 24. Neither of the two cities fell into the hands of the occupying troops, but the trail of crimes and abuses grows as what happened on the ground is investigated. Hundreds of civilians died in Kharkov, the second most populous city, due to the use of prohibited weapons by Russia, according to denounces this Monday Amnesty International. Russia uses cluster bombs, mines and inaccurate rockets to cause “widespread death and destruction” among the population, says this organization. Wars are governed by international conventions that, very often, as in this case, are ignored. Most of the time it is the civilian population that ends up paying the highest toll.

Those indiscriminate attacks killed 606 civilians and injured 1,248, according to the head of the Kharkov regional military administration’s medical department. “People have died in their homes and on the streets, in parks and cemeteries, while queuing for humanitarian aid or buying food or medicine. The repeated use of banned cluster munitions is outrageous, and yet another example of the utter disregard for civilian lives. The Russian forces responsible for these horrific attacks must be held accountable for their actions, and the victims and their families must receive full reparation,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior Adviser on Crisis Response at Amnesty International.

Health workers from the Kharkov Clinical Hospital 25 showed the small arrows that make up the cluster bombs and that they had extracted from the bodies of patients. Tetiana Ahaieva, a 53-year-old nurse, witnessed the explosion of several of them near the medical center. “Suddenly there was the noise of many firecrackers everywhere. I saw puffs of black smoke where the explosions took place. We fell to the ground and tried to find shelter. Our neighbor’s son, a 16-year-old boy named Artem Shevchenko, died on the spot. […]. His father had a shattered hip and a shrapnel wound to his leg. It’s hard to say how long the explosions lasted; A minute can seem like forever. Others die days later after being seriously injured, such as Oksana Litvinienko, 41, who was hit by the bomb while she was with her husband and her daughter in a playground and died last Saturday.

Amnesty International, which found 9N210 and 9N235 cluster munitions at the scene, spoke on April 26 with Ivan, the husband, before the fatal outcome: “I grabbed my daughter, pushed her against the tree and hugged her, so that she would be protected between the tree and my body. There was a lot of smoke and I couldn’t see anything (…). My wife Oksana was lying on the ground. When my daughter saw her mother on the ground in a pool of blood, she told me: ‘Let’s go home; mom is dead and people are dead’. She was in shock, and so was I. I still don’t know if my wife will recover.”

At least six people were killed and 15 wounded on March 24 in an attack near the Akademika Pavlova metro station. There hundreds of people lined up to receive humanitarian aid. Remains of a 220mm Uragan rocket were found at the site, with a margin of error of more than 100 meters, as well as fins and fragments of 9N210 and 9N235 cluster munitions.

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On March 12 there was an attack on a playground with a Grad rocket, as inaccurate as the Uragan. Three people died and six were injured. Olena Sorokina, 57, a cancer survivor, lost both her legs in an explosion. “After fighting cancer, now I have to fight another battle and learn to manage without legs,” she told Amnesty International.

Russia is not a party to the conventions that ban the use of cluster bombs or mines, but that does not exclude the indiscriminate attacks on civilians it carries out from the ban.

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