Ukraine: UN Red Cross operation underway to evacuate civilians from affected Mariupol factory |

“Safe passage operations… are happening today”, Saviano Abreu, of OCHA in Ukraine, adding that efforts are being “coordinated” by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross, “coordination with the parties to the conflict. ”

According to reports, more than 100 civilians were allowed to leave in the early stages of the operation.

Abreu said it had been agreed by the Russian and Ukrainian authorities that civilians who had been in the heavily damaged steel plant for nearly two months, “women, children and the elderly”, would be evacuated to Zaporizka, controlled by Ukraine. north of Mariupol.

Support the survivors

There, “they will receive immediate humanitarian assistance, including psychological services“, I said. World Health Organization (WHO) in Ukraine, tweeted that they and other partner agencies are “ready to receive evacuees” and hope that “there will be more evacuations.”

general secretary António Guterres arrived in Moscow and met with President Vladimir Putin early last week, securing an agreement from the Russian Prime Minister “in principle” to allow this weekend’s rescue operation to take place, after weeks of failed attempts provide a safe humanitarian corridor for a mass evacuation.

Following a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the capital Kyiv on Thursday, urgent orders to end what Guterres called a “crisis within a crisis” finally allow civilians to leave the city Coastal breakup after weeks of Russian bombardment, was the subject of “Tense Discussions” between the two sides.

Civil safety is paramount

Abreu said in a statement to reporters on Sunday that the operation had begun with a United Nations Red Cross convoy leaving Mariupol on Friday from Zaporizka, a journey of about 230 kilometers.

As activities are still ongoing, we will not be providing further details at this time“, he said, “to ensure the safety of civilians and humanity in the convoy. “

He concluded that the UN “will continue to promote safe passage out of Mariupol city for all civilians who wish to leave. The UN is actively working with all parties to advance these efforts. ”

If the evacuees are able to reach safety, it will mark the first time a convoy organized by humanitarian agencies has managed to ensure the passage of civilians, who are living under fire. of Russian heavy weapons and aerial bombardment, since the earliest days of the Russian invasion. .

The death toll inside Mariupol is unknown, but the city’s mayor reports that more than 20,000 civilians have been killed.

The last remaining Ukrainian soldiers to defend the city, have been held inside massive Soviet-era steel structures – along with hundreds of civilians – where a series of bunkers and labyrinthine tunnels are located. prevented Russian forces from securing the last pockets of Resistance.

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