Ukraine: Mariupol civilian evacuation hampered by continuous shelling

Ukraine: Mariupol civilian evacuation hampered by continuous shelling

Russia’s Defence Ministry on Saturday announced a ceasefire and humanitarian corridors to allow the evacuation of civilians from two Ukrainian cities, Mariupol and Volnovakha, after discussions between representatives of Kiev and Moscow, Belga news agency reports.

Starting at 07.00 GMT (08.00 Belgian time), “the Russian party declares a regime of silence (of weapons) and the opening of humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol and Volnovakha,” the Russian Defence Ministry was quoted as saying by Russian press agencies.

The ministry said the location of the humanitarian corridors and exit points had been determined in agreement with the Ukrainian authorities, according to the agencies.

Mariupol, a strategic port city on the Sea of Azov in southern Ukraine, is encircled by Russian forces. The attack on the city began soon after Russian forces entered Ukraine on the 24th of February. Volnovakha, a smaller town, is about 60 kilometres due north of Mariupol, in the Donetsk region.

Mariupol mayor Vadim Boïtchenko has announced that the city, which normally has a population of 450,000, was under a blockade. Pro-Russian separatist forces and the army said, for their part, that the town was encircled.

Prior to Saturday’s announcement by the Russian Defence Ministry, Mr. Boïtchenko had called for a ceasefire so that vital infrastructure could be restored, and a humanitarian corridor set up to allow food and medicines into the city, Belga reports.

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