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Red Cross Still Trying to Evacuate People from Mariupol

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Internally displaced people from Mariupol and nearby towns arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, April 1, 2022.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Saturday said the operation to help people leave the besieged city of Mariupol was continuing, hours after Russia said it had failed and blamed the organization.

Russia's defense ministry said aid convoys had not been able to reach Mariupol on Friday or Saturday and said it was the result of "destructive actions" by the ICRC, Interfax news agency said.

A Red Cross convoy traveling to the Ukrainian port turned around on Friday because it had become impossible to proceed with its mission to begin evacuating civilians, the ICRC said.

"The humanitarian operation to facilitate the safe passage of civilians out of Mariupol is ongoing. The situation on the ground is volatile and subject to rapid changes," an ICRC spokesperson said by email.

"Given the ICRC's role as a neutral intermediary in what is a highly complex operation, the ICRC is not in a position to comment further at this time."

Interfax had quoted Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the director of the Russian National Center for Defense Management, as saying the ICRC had shown its inability to provide any help in preparing to evacuate civilians from the city.

Mizintsev said due to the actions of the Red Cross, the convoys had left very late on

People who have managed to get out of Mariupol and through Russian lines to reach the city of Zaporizhzhia described their journey as an ordeal during which Russian soldiers repeatedly stopped them to check for the presence of Ukrainian fighters.

"They stripped the men naked, looked for tattoos," said Dmytro Kartavov, a 32-year-old builder, adding that the troops paid particular attention to the men's knees. "I work, I do repairs, naturally my knees - these are working knees. They say - (you) climbed trenches, dug, and the like."

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