Ukraine war: Evacuation of Mariupol halted ‘after ceasefire breached’

‘It’s not safe to go by this road because of these fights,’ deputy mayor says

Zoe Tidman
Monday 07 March 2022 14:19
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Ukrainian families seek shelter in Mariupol gym but remain optimistic for peace
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The evacuation of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol has been halted as authorities accused Russia of breaching a ceasefire agreement.

The local council told residents hoping to flee to return to shelters because Russian troops encircling the industrial port city were not respecting the truce.

Earlier on Saturday, Russia announced the start of a temporary ceasefire to allow residents of the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, as well as Volnovakha in eastern Ukraine, to leave.

Reports suggested this had not been upheld in Mariupol, which has faced days of Russian shelling.

The city’s authorities said on Saturday the planned evacuation had been postponed due to Russian troops breaching the ceasefire agreement, telling residents to await further instruction instead.

Serhiy Orlov, the deputy mayor for Mariupol, told the BBC there was continuous shelling along the humanitarian corridor set up for citizens to leave.

“It’s not safe to go by this road because of these fights,” he said.

The Ukrainian presidential office confirmed the evacuation had been postponed, saying the southeastern city remained under fire.

This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

“The Russian side is not holding to the ceasefire and has continued firing on Mariupol itself and on its surrounding area,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the office’s deputy head, said.

“Talks with the Russian Federation are ongoing regarding setting up a ceasefire and ensuring a safe humanitarian corridor.”

The ceasefire was meant to start at 7am GMT and last until 2pm GMT, with evacuations starting two hours in.

After its troops were accused of breaching the ceasefire, Russia’s defence ministry reportedly hit back by saying no one made use of the humanitarian corridor - nor the one in Volnovakha on Saturday.

The ministry accused Ukrainian “nationalists” of preventing civilians from leaving, according to a Russian state-owned news agency.

More than one million people have fled Ukraine since the fighting started last week, which has seen hundreds of civilian deaths and cities bombarded by artillery and missiles.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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