Russian forces used schools to encamp their troop, launch attacks, detain civilians and torture them in some cases
Rachel Denber, the deputy director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch, and Julia Gorbunova, a senior researcher for Ukraine for Human Rights Watch, speaks about the bullet points of their reports in Ukraine.
In those regions where they conducted the research (Kharkivska, Mykolaivska, Chernigivska, and Kyivska oblast), Russian forces used schools to encamp their troop, launch attacks, store ammunition, park their military vehicles, detain civilians and torture them in some cases, they say due to conversation with the host Andriy Kulykov for Ukraine Calling, the English language podcast.
Also they used schools for the medical treatment of their troops:
«And when they used schools in this manner, it obviously made the schools targets. It increased their risk of being attacked, because, obviously, you want to dislodge Russian military forces. You need to get them out of these schools. So, one bullet point is that Russian forces used schools in this manner».
Russian troops also looted these schools, taking computers, equipment, furniture and desks:
«They left a big mess behind and really offensive profane graffiti on the walls. Not only that, but they left swastikas and other things that I just won’t even repeat. The second bullet point is that they also attacked schools. We documented numerous instances when Russian forces attacked schools when they were retreating, including some of the schools that they had occupied. They left these schools in a complete state of disaster. As you know, almost 3,800 schools have been damaged and endured. 365 schools have been totally destroyed.
It’s also important to highlight the efforts that the Ukrainian government has made to keep children in school in education programs. At least, much of the education process is taking place now either by hybrid or online education or by moving children to other schools. So they have these results and overcrowding of these schools, but education has been impacted. I think those are the main points».
You may also read or listen the full conversation: Talking about collaboration we need to focus on the great harm caused, not just the people who were in a vulnerable position — human rights defender Rachel Denber