Editor’s Note: Yulia Gorbunova is a lawyer and Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher in Ukraine, where she has previously investigated armed conflict in the Donbas, human rights abuses in Crimea and most recently atrocities in Bucha and Mariupol. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion on CNN.
On March 15, Halyna Moroskhovskaya was cooking soup for 172 people in the city-run dormitory she managed in Mariupol. Like her, the residents were sheltering in temporary accommodation while Russian forces relentlessly shelled her home city.
At one point, the explosions got so bad that 59-year-old Halyna was running to the basement every time she added another ingredient to the pot. “Add carrots – run to the basement, add potatoes – run to the basement,” she told me last week in a hospital in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine which has become something of a safe haven in the country.
It is here where Halyna and her daughter, Nataliya, 37, are being treated for the catastrophic wounds they suffered when an explosion hit their dormitory later that day.