“I am pleased and pleased to confirm that 101 civilians have been successfully evacuated from the Azovstal Metallurgical Plant in Mariupol,” the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, said in a statement.
In Zaporizhia, the train’s destination, AFP journalists saw at least five buses arriving at a reception center.
Lubrani posted on Twitter a picture of him in front of a convoy of more than a dozen buses parked on a road.
He wrote: “The people I’ve traveled with told me some harrowing stories about the hell they lived in. I think of all those who remained trapped. We will do what we can to help them.”
The United Nations indicated that the withdrawal process began last Friday, following recent visits by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to Moscow and Kiev.
According to Lubrani, 58 people joined the convoy from Mangosh, a suburb of Mariupol, and 127 people were escorted to Zaporizhia, 230 kilometers to the northwest, in the territory controlled by Ukrainian forces.
Lubrani said other people decided not to travel to Zaporizhia by train. He explained that the rescued people “receive first humanitarian assistance and, above all, health care and psychological attention.”
About 80 civilians, according to Russia, or “100” according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, were evacuated from Azovstal on Sunday.
This large steel complex is the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol, a port city in southeastern Ukraine that is almost completely controlled by the Russians.
Meanwhile, several thousand are left halfway to the city of Zaporizhia (south), where the evacuees from Mariupol are taken.
According to the mayor of that coastal city, Vadim Boychenko, Russian forces are preventing about 2,000 civilians who left Mariupol from reaching Zaporizhia.
We were expecting a pullout today near Berdyansk. “But the Russian forces prevent our plans and do not allow our citizens to reach Zaporizhia,” the mayor was quoted by the Ukrainian news agency “Ukrinform” as saying.
In Mariupol, the last Ukrainian forces continue to hold out at the large Azovstal complex, where groups of civilians are still waiting for evacuation.
On Tuesday, the Russian army also launched a “strong offensive” with the support of tanks and infantry against the Azovstal steel plant, deputy commander of the Azovstal combat battalion, Svyatoslav Palamar, said in a video message published in the telegram.
He added that “a strong attack is currently taking place in the Azovstal region with the support of tanks and tanks and attempts to land forces backed by two ships and infantry forces.”
Russian authorities said, however, that “artillery and aircraft” were used to destroy the “firing positions” of the Ukrainian fighters who had left the factory.
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