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Some 127 Ukrainian Civilians Evacuated from Outskirts of Mariupol


People are seen through a bus window as civilians from Mariupol, including evacuees from Azovstal steel plant, travel in a convoy to Zaporizhzhia, during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine, May 2, 2022.

The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross accompanied 127 people Tuesday from the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, to the town of Zaporizhzhia, about 230 kilometers northwest of the besieged city.

The evacuation is the latest success of the safe passage operation coordinated by the U.N. and ICRC, which began April 29. That operation liberated 101 women, men, children and elderly people who had been living in bunkers below the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol for more than two months, while their city was being bombed by Russian forces.

Dorit Nizan, a World Health Organization incident manager for Ukraine, said preparations have been made to care for the physical and psychological needs of the new arrivals. She said the hospitals are well-equipped with medical supplies, and are being supported by volunteers and health workers.

Smoke rises above a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, May 2, 2022.
Smoke rises above a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, May 2, 2022.

"As you know, many people left this region because they are close to the contact line, and they were under fights and shelling," she said from a reception center in Zaporizhzhia. "But many of the health workers stayed to deliver, to help. And those that left are replaced by other health care workers that came from the other areas that were occupied."

Nizan said a steady stream of people has been coming to Zaporizhzhia from Mariupol and the vicinity. She added that some people stuck at the contact line in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, where intense fighting has been taking place, have arrived in cars driven by volunteers.

While Nizan said she does not know the condition of the people who arrived by bus from Mariupol, there are health workers on hand to help.

A service member of pro-Russian troops walks next to a bus as civilians from Mariupol, including evacuees from Azovstal steel plant, travel in a convoy to Zaporizhzhia, during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine May 2, 2022.
A service member of pro-Russian troops walks next to a bus as civilians from Mariupol, including evacuees from Azovstal steel plant, travel in a convoy to Zaporizhzhia, during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine May 2, 2022.

"We are ready for all what you just mentioned — burns, fractures and wounds, as well as infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections," she said. "And we are also ready to see the pregnant women, children, malnutrition. We are all here, and the health system is well prepared."

Nizan said no major injuries have been found among the people who have arrived, but that mental health is a big concern.

Before Russia began its attack on Mariupol, around half a million people lived in the bustling port city. Today's population is believed to be around 100,000.

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