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Women, children evacuated from besieged Mariupol Steel Plant

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All the women, children and the elderly who were trapped in the Ukrainian Mariupol Steel Works Plant that has been besieged by Russian forces, have been successfully evacuated, according to a military statement on Sunday.

The steel mill of Azovstal which is the last holdout in Mariupol for Ukrainian forces, has emerged as a symbol of resistance to the wider Russian effort to capture swathes of eastern and southern Ukraine in the war which has entered its 10 weeks.

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk who wrote on the Telegram messaging app said the evacuation was part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation which is now over.

The United Nations which led the rescue effort along with the International Red Cross, also wrote on Twitter:

“The UN is on the ground, with our colleagues from ICRC, working on a safe passage operation agreed with the parties to the conflict.

“This includes Azovstal and other areas around Mariupol. The U.N. will give more details of the operation once it is concluded,” said Saviano Abreu, spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Read also :Ukraine President calls for truce to dig out civilians trapped under steel plant

The Ukrainian government also reported that while under heavy bombardment, fighters and civilians had been trapped for weeks in deep bunkers and tunnels that crisscrossed the site with little food, water or medicine.

Mariupol has been left in ruins by weeks of Russian bombardment, and the steel mill has been largely destroyed with several groups of civilians have left the sprawling complex over the past week during pauses in fighting.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is gathering evidence for a possible war crimes investigation into attacks it says it has documented by Russia on health care facilities in Ukraine.

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