Ukraine To Send Dozens Of Buses To Help Evacuate Residents Of Embattled Mariupol

Ukraine’s central government plans to send dozens of buses to the southern port city of Mariupol to aid the evacuation of refugees from fighting there amid a continuing onslaught by invading Russian forces.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said nearly 50 buses were set to arrive in the city on March 21.

She said that 3,985 people were evacuated on March 20 from Mariupol to the city of Zaporizhzhya about 225 kilometers away.

Overall, she said, 7,295 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on March 20, with four out of the seven planned routes working.

An estimated 350,000 people remain in besieged Mariupol, which Russia is seeking to seize to establish a link between Crimea -- which it seized in 2014 -- to connect with territories controlled by Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Municipal officials report a humanitarian catastrophe in Mariupol, with residents trapped without basic services, such as water, food, and fuel, as fighting rages in the city.

According to Russian state media, Moscow has agreed to open “humanitarian corridors” for two hours on March 21.

Moscow has agreed to allow residents to leave cities in the past, but residents have reported Russian attacks on some of the evacuation routes.

Based on reporting by Reuters