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Humanitarian corridors allow 4,217 Ukrainian civilians to evacuate dangerous regions

By Sommer Brokaw & Calley Hair
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Ukrainians evacuated from areas near Mariupol wait after arriving at a triage point in Kyiv, Ukraine. File Photo by State Emergency Service of Ukraine/UPI
Ukrainians evacuated from areas near Mariupol wait after arriving at a triage point in Kyiv, Ukraine. File Photo by State Emergency Service of Ukraine/UPI | License Photo

April 2 (UPI) -- A total of 4,217 civilians evacuated high-conflict areas using Ukrainian corridors on Saturday, including many from the port city of Mariupol where an ongoing bombardment from Russian forces has created an extreme humanitarian crisis.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchu said in a statement posted to Telegram that 1,263 people from Mariupol and the Russian-held city of Berdiansk drove their own vehicles to Zaporizhzhia, where a convoy of 10 buses carrying more than 300 Mariupol residents is also headed.

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To the east, 2,560 people evacuated the Luhansk region on Saturday, Vereshchu said. Evacuations are expected to continue Sunday with buses trying to get closer to Mariupol.

The successful evacuations came after an attempt by the Red Cross to evacuate Mariupol citizens on Friday failed.

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"Conditions made it impossible to proceed," on Friday, and the evacuation team had to return to Zaporizhzhia, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement, adding that it "will try again on Saturday to facilitate the safe passage of civilians from Mariupol."

"For the operation to succeed, it is critical that the parties respect the agreements and provide the necessary conditions and security guarantees," the statement added.

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Russian forces seized the southern city of Mariupol in the early days of its more than five-week-long invasion, and tens of thousands remain trapped with scarce access to food and water since the Red Cross team's convoy turned back Friday.

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The Red Cross said on Friday that it had received clearance from Ukraine and Russia on the evacuation plan, which included 54 buses.

Venediktova said in an earlier statement on her Telegram channel that the corridor for Mariupol was among seven humanitarian corridors to evacuate people from Ukraine's besieged regions planned for Saturday, NBC News reported.

"Ukrainian forces continue to advance against withdrawing forces in the vicinity of Kyiv," Britain's Defense Ministry said in its latest update on Twitter.

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"Russian forces are reported to have withdrawn from Hostomel airport, which has been subject to fighting since the first day of the conflict," the defense ministry added.

Still, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a late-night video address that Russian forces have planted mines, including around homes and corpses, in areas where they are withdrawing ground forces, and "airstrikes can continue."

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Ukrainian service members stand beside a damaged building in a residential area after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 18. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo

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