All remaining women, children and elderly civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vershchuk said on Saturday.
The announcement caps weeks of effort by the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross to extract civilians who have remained trapped amid heavy fighting in the strategic port city since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February.
“The president’s order has been carried out: All women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from Azovstal,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Saturday, without elaborating. “This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed.”
Russia’s Tass news agency reported that 50 civilians were evacuated on Saturday. Close to 500 have evacuated Mariupol in recent days.
Russian forces have stepped up attacks on the steel mill in recent weeks, further complicating evacuation efforts.
As many as 2,000 Ukrainian fighters remain at the sprawling plant, according to Russian estimates. The fighters have reportedly refused to surrender.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address Saturday that he is “working on diplomatic options to save our troops who are still at Azovstal.”
– This story includes wire reports.
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