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Russia Ukraine conflict

Over 170 civilians evacuated from Azovstal, Mariupol area: ICRC in Ukraine

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More than 170 civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, after weeks of sheltering underground with limited access to food, water, and medicine, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement late Monday.

The evacuated civilians were sent to Zaporizhzhia on Sunday in the third safe passage operation in the past week coordinated by the Red Cross and the United Nations.

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ICRC evacuations in Mariupol, Ukraine. (Supplied)
ICRC evacuations in Mariupol, Ukraine. (Supplied)

“We are relieved that we could help evacuate more civilians from Azovstal and the Mariupol area and bring them to a safe place,” said Pascal Hundt, the head of delegation for the ICRC in Ukraine.

“The humanitarian convoy is a life-changing moment and major relief for these people who have suffered the horrors of close combat for too many weeks. They have endured a level of horror no human should have to go through,” he added.

ICRC evacuations in Mariupol, Ukraine. (Supplied)
ICRC evacuations in Mariupol, Ukraine. (Supplied)

The four-day operation to evacuate the trapped civilians began on May 5 when 51 civilians were evacuated from the steel plant. Prior to that, two safe passage operations took place in which 500 people were evacuated from Azovstal and the Mariupol area to Zaporizhzhia on May 3 and 4, the organization said in a statement.

The ICRC has so far helped facilitate the safe passage of over 10,000 civilians from Sumy and Mariupol to other locations in Ukraine.

ICRC evacuations in Mariupol, Ukraine. (Supplied)
ICRC evacuations in Mariupol, Ukraine. (Supplied)

Most of the heavy fighting during the Ukraine war has taken place in Mariupol.

Deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, said in a press conference on Sunday that the Azovstal steel plant has been under “constant intense shelling” by Russian forces who are trying to seize the remaining stronghold in Mariupol.

“We will continue to fight as long as we are alive to repel the Russian occupiers,” added Palamar, calling for the international community to urgently help evacuate wounded soldiers.

“We don’t have much time, we are coming under intense shelling.”

Denis Pushilin, the Russia-backed head of Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, said that he plans to turn Mariupol into a “resort town,” Russian news media TASS quoted him as saying on Monday.

“Russia is here forever, and you are finally home. Now this is the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic forever. No one will take away this right from us,” he said on World War Two Victory Day.

“The task is to make Mariupol a resort city, which has not been possible to do before,” said Pushilin, adding that the steel plant “negatively affected the ecology of the city itself and coastal waters.

“If Azovstal is not restored, then we will make it a resort town.”

Read more:

Separatist leader plans to make Mariupol a ‘resort town’, says ‘Russia here forever’

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