United Nations, May 5 (EFE).- More than 340 people were evacuated from the besieged port city of Mariupol and its surroundings in recent hours, Ukraine’s president said early Thursday morning.
These evacuations are in addition to those that took place on Tuesday, which were mostly of civilians who had taken refuge in the Azovstal steel mill.
“The second stage of our evacuation operation from Mariupol was completed today. Three hundred and forty-four people were rescued – from the city and its suburbs. That’s how many people departed to Zaporizhzhia today,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a Telegram video.
“Our team is getting ready to meet them. Meet in the same way as more than 150 people whom we managed to take out of Azovstal. They all receive the necessary help. All of them will receive the most caring treatment from our state.”
He added that the government is negotiating to continue rescuing people from Azovstal and Mariupol.
“To save them, we need to continue the silence … It takes time to just lift people out of those basements, out of those underground shelters. In the current conditions, we cannot use special equipment to clear the debris. Everything is done manually. But we believe that everything will work out,” Zelenskyy said.
Osnat Lubrani, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Ukraine, confirmed the operation on Twitter, and thanked the coordination of the UN and the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC).
“Many came with nothing but the clothes they had on. We will now support them in this difficult time,” she said.
Pascal Hundt, ICRC’s head of delegation in Ukraine, said he was “relieved that more lives have been spared,” and welcomed the “renewed efforts of the parties with regards to safe passage operations.”
“They remain crucial and urgent in light of the immense suffering of the civilians,” he added.
The UN and the ICRC completed the first evacuation of civilians on Tuesday, with over 100 people leaving Azovstal steelworks, the last stronghold of the Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol and where, according to local authorities, there are still hundreds more civilians and an unknown number of combatants inside.
Azovstal was the scene of new Russian attacks Wednesday, but Moscow announced that as of Thursday, for three days it will cease hostilities to facilitate a humanitarian corridor through which civilians can be evacuated.
The UN and the ICRC have been in charge in recent days of negotiating with the parties to the conflict the conditions to evacuate civilians trapped in the Mariupol area, one of the hardest hit by the war in Ukraine. EFE