Monday, May 16

Zelensky confirms the evacuation of a hundred civilians from the Mariupol steelworks

The Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zalenski, has reported this Sunday of the evacuation of one hundred civilians from the Azovstal steelworks, in Mariúpol and besieged by Russian forces, where it is estimated that some 500 civilians and a thousand fighters from the Azov regiment remain. The evacuated group “is already on its way” to the area controlled by Ukraine. “Tomorrow we will meet with them in Zaporizhia,” the president assured on his Twitter account.

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Civilians and wounded soldiers still remain in the facilities, without access to medical treatment and with increasingly scarce supplies of water and food.

The United Nations has also confirmed the launch of an operation to evacuate Ukrainian civilians from the Azovstal steel mill. The announcement comes after several frustrated attempts in recent days and after Russia and Ukraine have made announcements of the departure of the 46-person metallurgical plant.

A group of officials arrived at the steelworks this Saturday and the operation is being coordinated by the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as Russia and Ukraine. UN spokesman Saviano Abreu has reported that no further information will be provided about the evacuation to guarantee the safety of those affected, according to Reuters. “I am grateful to our team. Now, together with the United Nations, it is working on the evacuation of more civilians from the plant,” the Ukrainian president said.

Both kyiv and Moscow had confirmed throughout the day the departure from the plant in the city of Mariúpol, one of the hardest hit by the Russian offensive, of several dozen people, who were in the residential buildings near the plant. “On April 30, as a result of the establishment of a truce and the opening of a humanitarian corridor, two groups of civilians left the residential buildings adjacent to the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant,” the Russian Defense Ministry said through its Telegram account.

A group of 25 neighbors left the town in the afternoon and another, of 21 people, in the evening. They were all taken to Bezimenne, 33 kilometers from the city, according to this same source, and then they were directed to Novoazovsk, further east, reports the official Russian agency RIA Nóvosti.

On Saturday night, Ukrainian forces had also signaled the evacuation of about twenty civilians from this area. Specifically, the deputy commander of the Azov battalion, Sviatoslav Palmar, reported 20 people through a video posted on the regiment’s Telegram account, who had been sent to a designated location in the city. Zelenski raises this noon the number of evacuees to a hundred.

Since the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said during his visit to kyiv and Moscow that one of his fundamental objectives was to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, several of the attempts to carry out said evacuation, fundamentally those that are in the besieged metallurgical plant of Azovstal, have not been able to materialize.

This Sunday, however, the municipal authorities of Mariúpol, which is almost entirely occupied by Russian forces, have announced the evacuation of civilians to the territory controlled by Ukraine. “Officially, today it is possible to evacuate civilians from Mariupol to Zaporizhia, further north,” reported the press service of the City Council, in a message in which it asked the entire population to try to contact any known in the area, according to the Unian agency. “Call, write and say that it is possible to go to Zaporizhia. We pray that everything works out,” the mayor’s office said.

On April 24, the city’s mayor Vadim Boychenko said that more than 100,000 people remained in the city. Some 1,000 Ukrainian civilians and soldiers remain refugees at the Azovstal plant, including some 600 wounded, waiting to be evacuated.

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