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5 Mar, 2022 16:30

Red Cross updates on Ukraine humanitarian corridors

The evacuation of civilians from Mariupol and Volnovakha is unlikely to begin on Saturday
Red Cross updates on Ukraine humanitarian corridors

Humanitarian corridors from the Azov Sea port city of Mariupol and the nearby city of Volnovakha are unlikely to open on Saturday and it’s still unclear when safe-passage operations might begin, a statement from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) suggests.

Mariupol authorities said earlier on Saturday that evacuation of civilians, planned for today, has been postponed while negotiations with Russia are ongoing.

According to the official representative of the People’s Militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Eduard Basurin, only 17 people,12 adults and five children, managed to leave Mariupol while no one has left Volnovakha.

We understand that the safe-passage operations from Mariupol and Volnovakha will not start today. We remain in dialogue with the parties about the safe passage of civilians from different cities affected by the conflict," the ICRC added.

Noting that the scenes in Mariupol and in other cities are “heart-breaking,” the organization said that any initiative capable of helping civilians to evacuate would be welcomed.

The ICRC confirms that it stands ready to facilitate the safe passage of civilians but stresses that the operation should be “well planned and implemented with the agreement of the parties to the conflict.”

The charity also called on the parties to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure “regardless of whether humanitarian corridors are implemented in the coming days.

Both Mariupol and Volnovakha have been surrounded by DPR forces which, along with Russia's Ministry of Defense, blame Ukrainian nationalists for not letting civilians to safely leave the cities, that the latter had secured safe passages on humanitarian routes from the two cities.

The ministry claimed that the brief pause in the Russian offensive had been used to pull in more forces. RT was unable to independently verify the situation in Mariupol.

Mariupol’s Mayor Vadim Boychenko, for his part, cited shelling by Russian forces as a reason for the humanitarian corridors’ delay.

About 200,000 people hoped to evacuate from Mariupol, 15,000 – from Volnovakha.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin explained the attack against Ukraine by the need to “demilitarize” Ukraine, to protect the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics and to defend Russia’s own safety interests. The West considers the offensive “unlawful” and “unjustified” and responded to it by imposing harsh sanctions on Moscow.