Kyiv, Apr 22 (EFE).- Ukraine did not open any humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuations from various cities on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
“Due to the danger on the routes, there will be no humanitarian corridors today. I appeal to all those waiting to be evacuated: be patient, please hold on!,” Vereshchuk said on her Telegram channel.
She said several Ukrainian troops and about 1000 civilians were holed up at the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged port city.
The deputy prime minister rejected Russia’s lay-down-arms demand for the soldiers inside the blockaded plant.
“There is such thing as a corridor for the military to surrender.
“The Russians have provided one, but we do not need it, as our military does not want to surrender,” she said.
Vereshchuk said Ukraine needed a corridor from Azovstal to evacuate women, children, and the elderly trapped inside the plant.
“The Russians refuse to open a corridor for civilians, cynically pretending that they do not understand the difference between a corridor for the military to surrender and a humanitarian corridor to evacuate the civilians.”
She said it was a ploy “to put extra pressure on our military.”
“The Russians are afraid of storming Azovstal, but at the same time they are knowingly and cynically blocking the release of civilians.”
She called on world leaders to make every effort to open a humanitarian corridor from Azovstal for the civilians.
She alleged that Russian troops also took the president of the territorial community hostage and demanded his immediate release.
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko also appealed for the evacuation of civilians from the city that the Russians claimed was under their control.
He said people trapped in the besieged city were in subhuman conditions without water, heating arrangements, and electricity.
“We need the full evacuation of the population,” he said.
Russia Thursday claimed that it had captured the port city even as the Ukrainian troops remained inside the Azovstal steel plant, the last pocket of resistance where some 2,000 people have taken shelter.
The heavily fortified plant is spread over an 11 sq km area and has many underground tunnels and bunkers.
Experts say the strategic Mariupol city is one of the main objectives of the Russians in their effort to achieve total control of the Donbas region and create a land corridor in the east of the country to the annexed Crimean peninsula.
Kyiv said the Russians were not yet in total control of the city, as some soldiers and several hundred civilians remained holed up inside the steel complex. EFE