The condition of thousands of residents of the besieged city of Mariupol in Ukraine is “worsening” as they are left without electricity, water, medicine or communication because of continuous and unabated bombardment from Russia, the UK’s military intelligence has claimed in its latest update.
“The humanitarian situation in the city is worsening,” the UK’s defence ministry said on Wednesday.
“Most of the 160,000 remaining residents have no light, communication, medicine, heat or water. Russian forces have prevented humanitarian access, likely to pressure defenders to surrender,” it added.
The statement comes after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of blocking humanitarian aid to Mariupol and said Moscow was buying time to “clean up” evidence of human-rights abuses.
He cited data by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the country’s security agency, that said Russian forces “plan to gather bodies of Mariupol residents killed by the Russians themselves in one place and present them as mass victims of Ukrainian troops”.
He made the remarks during an interview with Turkey’s Haberturk television.
The port city of Mariupol, a strategically important port on the Sea of Azov that is a part of the Black Sea, has been encircled by Russian forces since the beginning of March.
The city has been pummelled by endless bombardment from artillery, rockets and missiles as Ukrainian forces said they have been fending off attacks on the city for more than 40 days.
More than 90 per cent of the city has been reportedly damaged and access to electricity, heating, freshwater, food and medical supplies has been cut off.
Meanwhile, British health secretary Sajid Javid said the world must “act to stop mass murder” in Ukraine, as he compared rising civilian killings to the 1995 genocide in Bosnia.
“This is mass murder on an unprecedented scale in Europe. We haven’t seen the likes of this I think since 1995,” he told the BBC.
“I don’t want to be commemorating another genocide in Europe years from now. We have the power, the world has the power to stop this, and it must act,” Mr Javid said.
In what is widely believed to be Europe’s worst humanitarian atrocity since the Second World War, Bosnian Serb forces overran a UN “safe zone” in Srebrenica and massacred Muslim Bosniaks in July 1995.
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