Russian forces 'block evacuation buses from Mariupol and seize humanitarian aid' - Bark Sedov

Russian forces ‘block evacuation buses from Mariupol and seize humanitarian aid’

New Ukraine efforts to rescue civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol have been hampered after Russian forces allegedly blocked buses and stole humanitarian aid.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russian soldiers blocked a convoy of 45 buses heading to Mariupol to evacuate people after Moscow agreed to a limited ceasefire.

“The Russian Federation, in turn, does not let our buses pass,” she said, adding that the buses were stopped outside of Berdyansk, some 75 km to the west.

Only 631 people were able to leave the city in private cars, she added.

Ms Vereshchuk also accused Russian soldiers of seizing 12 Ukrainian trucks delivering humanitarian supplies to Mariupol.

Accordingly, the Russian military is said to have stolen about 14 tons of humanitarian aid Kyiv independent.

An aide to the Mariupol mayor said Friday the city remained closed to anyone trying to enter and was “very dangerous” to anyone trying to exit.

Petro Andryushchenko said Russian forces had been preventing even the smallest amount of humanitarian supplies from reaching the trapped residents since Thursday, making it clear that the planned humanitarian corridor had not been opened.

“The city remains closed for entry and it is very dangerous to exit by personal transport,” he said on the Telegram messaging app.

“In addition, the occupiers have categorically not allowed any humanitarian aid – not even small amounts – into the city since yesterday.”

A mother hugs her daughter as they eat at the evacuation point in Zaporizhia on March 26 with other people who came mainly from the cities of Mariupol and Melitopol

(EPA)

Before the start of the relief effort, Ms Vereshchuk said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had confirmed that the Russian Federation was ready to open access for the humanitarian convoy to the city of Mariupol.

The ICRC had said that “the lives of tens of thousands of people in Mariupol depend on it”.

The city has suffered some of the worst effects of the war and has been described as “worse than hell” by those who fled under fire in their own cars or on foot.

This map shows the extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

(Pictures of the Press Association)

About 170,000 people are said to still be stranded in the strategic city, which has been bombed for weeks. About 430,000 people lived in the city before the war, but the number was reduced after several evacuation efforts. Many have also died in attacks on a maternity hospital, fire brigades and residential buildings in recent weeks.

The city, which has now been largely destroyed, has been cut off from the supply of water, electricity, mobile communications, heating and food for a few weeks of the war in March. People were reduced to tapping their radiators for water, melting snow, drinking rainwater, or running through shelling to get to springs.

Meanwhile, Russian forces evacuated the heavily contaminated Chernobyl nuclear site on Friday morning after soldiers received “significant doses of radiation” while digging trenches in the forest.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the vulnerable and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now we are renewing our campaign and launching this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukraine crisis we urge the government to go further and faster to ensure aid is delivered.

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