The United Nations said on Tuesday that 101 civilians have been successfully evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol and other areas in a “safe passage operation.”
The UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross coordinated the evacuation.
“The operation started on April 29 and was agreed with the parties to the conflict, following engagements by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during his recent visits to Moscow and Kyiv,” said Osnat Lubrani, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine.
“Thanks to the operation, 101 women, men, children, and older persons could finally leave the bunkers below the Azovstal steelworks and see the daylight after two months.”
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also said that 3,193 civilians had been killed, including 227 children, and 3,353 people injured since Russia attacked Ukraine on Feb. 24.
“OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed, and many reports are still pending corroboration,” said the rights office.
During the evacuation, another 58 people joined the group in Manhush, a town on the outskirts of Mariupol, and the UN and Red Cross said they had accompanied 127 people on Tuesday to Zaporizhzhia about 230 kilometers (138 miles) northwest of Mariupol.
The evacuees are receiving initial humanitarian assistance, including health and psychological care, from UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and humanitarian partners.
Some evacuees had decided not to proceed towards Zaporizhzhia with the convoy, said the UN.
“Over the past days, traveling with the evacuees, I have heard mothers, children, and frail grandparents speak about the trauma of living day after day under unrelenting heavy shelling and the fear of death, and with extreme lack of water, food and sanitation,” said Lubrani.
“They spoke of the hell they have experienced since this war started, seeking refuge in the Azovstal plant, many being separated from family members whose fate they still don’t know.”
Despite bringing people to safety, the UN official said she was worried that there might be more civilians who remain trapped.
“We stand ready to work with ICRC to return to Azovstal to evacuate them and do the same in all other areas experiencing intense and escalating fighting across Ukraine,” said Lubrani.
“The UN will continue to engage with the parties to the conflict for this purpose.”/aa