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Several Women And Children Evacuated From Besieged Mariupol Steel Plant, Ukrainian And Russian Officials Say

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Topline

Dozens of women and children have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plan in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol—that Russia now claims is under its control—a move that comes amidst a United Nations effort to broker a cease-fire to allow safe passage of civilians from the area that remains the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in the city.

Key Facts

In a video posted on Telegram, a deputy commander Svyatoslav Palamar of the Ukrainian paramilitary group Azov regiment said that an evacuation convoy on Saturday was able to pick up around 20 women and children from the plant.

Evacuation efforts from the besieged industrial complex will continue as long as the Russians don’t “start shooting again” Palamar told the New York Times.

The evacuation effort appears to have continued on Sunday, as the Russian defense ministry announced that a total of 46 civilians have been evacuated from the plant in two groups.

It is unclear how many civilians still remain in the complex but Ukrainian officials previously stated that nearly 1,000 civilians and fighters were trapped in the plant as Russian forces have moved in to take control of the rest of the city.

The Ukrainian government and multiple international entities—including the Vatican—have urged Russia to allow all trapped Ukrainians to leave the plant, something that Moscow has allegedly rebuffed.

On Saturday, multiple unconfirmed videos were shared on social media showing vehicles with United Nations markings entering Mariupol, but it is unclear if they have aided in the evacuation process.

Key Background

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed his forces had successfully captured Mariupol although several Ukrainian fighters remained in control of the Azovstal Steel Plant. Putin nixed the idea of storming the massive industrial complex and instead ordered his troops to lay siege to it so that “not even a fly can escape.” Ukrainian officials however have repeatedly called for a ceasefire around the plant to allow for the evacuation of the people trapped there but the Russians have allegedly refused to acquiesce. The United Nations is now negotiating with officials in Moscow and Kyiv to lead an evacuation effort from the plant but details about it remain scare.

Crucial Quote

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesperson Saviano Abreu told the Associated Press: “There is, right now, ongoing, high-level engagements with all the governments, Russia and Ukraine, to make sure that you can save civilians and support the evacuation of civilians from the plant.” Abreu however refused to provide details about the evacuations “because of the complexity and fluidity of the operation.”

Further Reading

Russia says 46 civilians left area near Azovstal plant on Saturday (Reuters)

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