Zelensky confirms start of evacuation from besieged Mariupol factory of Azovstal

1 May, 07:44 PM
The Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, which is regularly attacked by Russian invaders (Photo:Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, which is regularly attacked by Russian invaders (Photo:Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Civilians are beginning to be evacuated from the besieged factory of Azovstal, one of the last Ukrainian-controlled areas in the Donbas port city of Mariupol, confirmed President Volodymyr Zelensky in a tweet on May 1.

According to the President, his team, along with UN representatives, are working to evacuate the rest of the civilians that have been trapped, hiding beneath the factory, for weeks under constant Russian shelling.

“The evacuation of civilians from Azovstal has started,” the President wrote.

“The first group of about 100 people is already heading to the government-controlled territory. Tomorrow we will meet them in Zaporizhzhya.”

Видео дня

The head of the Ukrainian delegation at peace talks with Russia, David Arakhamia, said that the evacuees included women, children, and the elderly.

“Our heroic lads from Azov are holding out,” Arakhamia commented in a video address.

“The next stage of the operation is to rescue everyone else. There are still a lot of people left and a lot of problems. This was the first ceasefire at Azovstal — for two days now.”

Earlier, a UN representative announced the start of the evacuation of civilians from the besieged facility. According to Saviano Abreu, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the organization is conducting a “safe passage operation” for civilians from Azovstal. It began on April 29 and is now being coordinated with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Ukraine, and Russia.

During a Russian bombing attack on April 28, an operating room in the tunnels under the factory collapsed, increasing the number of injured at the facility to around 600 individuals.

On April 30, the deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, Svyatoslav Palamar, said that an evacuation convoy had arrived in Mariupol, evacuating 20 civilians from Azovstal, who had been rescued from under the rubble — they were bound for the city of Zaporizhzhya.

Mariupol has been blockaded by Russian invaders for two months. Russians have systematically targeted the city’s infrastructure. Water, power, heat, and communications has all been destroyed and cut off. Preliminary estimates put the number of dead in Mariupol at 22,000.

Additionally, Russians have been operating at least 13 mobile crematoriums in the city, and have forbidden residents from burying the dead. Local and authorities and journalists in the area have both reportedly discovered at least three mass graves.

At least 1,000 civilians are believed to have been hiding in underground shelters underneath the Azovstal steelworks plant, which has been constantly bombarded by Russian attacks. In total, according to estimates by the Ukrainian authorities, around 120,000 civilians may be left in Mariupol.

Russia has regularly disrupted humanitarian corridors and violated agreements with the Ukrainian side, opening fire or deceiving and forcibly abducting Ukrainian citizens to Russian territory.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google News

Show more news