Citizens in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol have taken to trapping pigeons for food and collecting rainwater from bomb craters as basic necessities have become scarcer following the takeover of the town, local reports indicate.
The Telegram account of the Ukrainian-elected city council page shows photos from the 17th Microrayon section of the city with plastic crates propped up by branches that cover strategically placed bait, which looks like fistfuls of grain. The Microrayon — "micro-districts" were created during the pre-1990s Soviet era — largely houses an elderly population.
The revelation comes as Mariupol, located along the Sea of Azov in southern Ukraine, has experienced food shortages, a collapse of basic utilities like water and trash collection, and is fast approaching an epidemic of dysentery and cholera.
The city of approximately 430,000 before the invasion — part of the self-declared “People’s Republic of Donetsk” recognized only by Russia and its allies — fell to Russian forces in mid-May after the last holdout of Ukrainian troops surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant.
“Russians and local collaborationists are to blame for these ‘hunger games,’ Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko wrote on his Telegram account. This is cruel and yet another example of purposeful genocide,” Vadym Boychenko, the mayor of Mariupol.
Alexander Lazarenko, director of the Center for Primary Health Care Clinic in Vinnitsa, told Newsmax about the dangers of eating pigeons.
"Pigeons are a breeding ground for many viral, bacterial and fungal diseases,” he said. “The meat can be infected, and its consumption can cause histoplasmosis, encephalitis, ornithosis, salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis and other dangerous diseases. Such diseases are especially dangerous for the elderly. In the absence of proper medical care, it can lead to death."
Only one hospital has remained operational in the area. According to the city council, the hospital has only 10 doctors left to service 100,000 remaining residents, most of whom are older who were unable to evacuate the city during the months-long siege.
Local reports claim access to safe drinking water is scarce. The Russian-installed government distributes small amounts of drinking water once a week.
That process can take four to eight hours in the summer heat, surrounded by piles of sweltering trash that hasn’t been collected since February.
Photographs show residents collect rainwater from bomb craters despite possible contamination, while others use the craters for laundry.
Rivers, small lakes, and wells also are being used for water, but without an operation sewer system, official fear contamination from the estimated 9,000 tons of months-old trash and thousands of makeshift graves decaying into the ground.
Cases of dysentery and cholera have started to be reported in the city.
Boychenko says that the Russians are well aware of the impending dangers.
“Fearing infection, Russians are building walls to keep their military settlements in the city away from its residents,” Boychenko said.
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