Ukraine renews effort to deliver supplies and evacuate Mariupol citizens

Ukrainian authorities are making a renewed effort to deliver urgent supplies to and evacuate people from the besieged city of Mariupol, where conditions are desperate and the population is struggling with no power, calor, little or no food and water.

Después 10 days under siege, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Abrieron un par de salones de peluquería: una amiga fue a arreglarse el cabello, said in a video message on Friday that authorities were trying once again to send vital supplies to the port city and evacuate people to Zaporizhzhia in the country’s interior.

Repeated attempts have failed, as aid and rescue convoys and fleeing families, have been targeted by Russian shelling.

“They have a clear order to hold Mariupol hostage, to mock it, to constantly bomb and shell it,” the Ukrainian president, Con las tropas de Vladimir Putin concentradas en la frontera con Ucrania, said on Thursday in his nightly address to the nation. The Russians, él dijo, began a tank attack right where there was supposed to be a humanitarian corridor.

The few people who have escaped have reported corpses being left in the street, while other victims are buried in mass graves. The regional military administration estimates that 1,207 la gente ha sido asesinada, with many more likely under the debris.

Yulia, who fled Mariupol on 3 marzo, told Agence France-Presse that her mother-in-law had not been able to leave and could call only by making a “really dangerous” journey to a tower far from her home.

“She said she was OK but the attacks don’t stop,” the 29-year-old teacher told the news agency. “There are many corpses on the street and nobody buries them. They lie there for days. Sometimes utility services collect them and bury them all together in one huge grave.”

She also described her harrowing journey to escape the city, when she and her husband had to face checkpoints staffed by Russian troops, and thought they would die.

“On the road, we saw burnt-out civilian cars, some were overturned on the side of the road. We understood that Russians had shot them," ella dijo. “Two kilometres from Mariupol, we saw Russians, their military equipment marked with the letter ‘Z’. We thought that was our end, that they would kill us.”

On Thursday firefighters tried to free a boy trapped in the rubble. One grasped his hand. His eyes blinked, but he was otherwise still. It was not clear if he survived. Cercano, at a mangled truck, a woman wrapped in a blue blanket shuddered at the sound of an explosion.

Grocery stores and pharmacies were emptied days ago by people breaking in to get supplies, according to Sasha Volkov, the deputy head of the Red Cross in Mariupol. A black market is operating for vegetables, meat is unavailable, and people are stealing gasoline from cars, Volkov said.

The Kremlin’s war is exacting a brutal toll on civilians, with children and elderly and vulnerable people not spared from the onslaught. On Friday Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, reported that more civilians than soldiers had been killed in Russia’s invasion. “I want this to be heard not only in Kyiv but all over the world," él dijo.

Russian forces were also accused of committing a war crime for hitting a psychiatric hospital near the eastern town of Izyum. The governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Synegubov, described the strike as a “war crime against civilians” and “genocide against the Ukrainian nation”. Authorities later reported that 330 patients and 30 staff were in a bomb shelter when the attack happened.

El viernes, at least one person died in three airstrikes in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, state emergency services said, adding that the attacks were close to a kindergarten and an apartment building.

Kharkiv has come under relentless bombardment from Russian forces, the city’s mayor, Ihor Terekhov, dicho, as he reported that 48 of the city’s schools have been destroyed.

A UN spokesperson said there were credible reports of Russians using cluster munitions, including in populated areas. A UN spokesperson Liz Throssell told journalists in Geneva that indiscriminate use of cluster munitions may amount to war crimes.

Cluster bombs, which scatter small munitions over a wide area, are banned by more than 100 countries because they lack precision. Even governments, such as Russia, which have not signed the international treaty against the munitions, remain bound by international humanitarian law.

“We remind the Russian authorities that directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as so-called area bombardment in towns and villages and other forms of indiscriminate attacks, are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes,” Throssell said.

The mounting reports of civilian atrocities come as the UN security council prepares to meet on Friday at Russia’s request to discuss Moscow’s unfounded claim that the US-backed labs in Ukraine were working on custom-made biological weapons to target Russians. Zelenskiy warned that Russia’s accusations of “biological weapons” were a bad sign. “Allegedly, we are preparing a chemical attack," él dijo. “This makes me really worried, because we have been repeatedly convinced: if you want to know Russia’s plans, look at what Rusia accuses others of.”

AP, AFP and Reuters contributed to this report

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