100,000 Ukrainians are still trapped in Mariupol, facing ‘inhumane conditions’, Zelensky says

LVIV, UKRAINE - MARCH 19: Ukrainians take part in an action in support of the residents and defenders of Mariupol on March 19, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine. Lviv has served as a stopover and shelter for the millions of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, either to the safety of nearby countries or the relative security of western Ukraine. (Photo by Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

In his latest video address Tuesday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said more than 7,000 people had escaped the besieged port city of Mariupol in the last 24 hours, but that nearly 100,000 remained trapped in “inhumane conditions” without food, water or medication as Russia’s bombardment continued. Read FRANCE 24’s coverage of the day’s events as they unfolded.

A regional governor in Ukraine said on Tuesday Russian and Ukrainian forces were fighting in the city of Mariupol, and accused Russian troops of firing indiscriminately at residential areas and Ukrainian military targets.

Russia denies targeting civilians.

Speaking on national television, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said civilians were coming under Russian fire as well as troops of Ukraine’s Azov military unit.

Rocket strikes destroyed a railway station in Ukraine’s central-eastern Dnipro region on Tuesday, killing one person and damaging rails enough to prevent train passage indefinitely, Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.

The rockets hit a station of the town of Pavlohrad around 60 km east of the regional capital Dnipro.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday about 300,000 people in the occupied city of Kherson were running out of food and medical supplies, and accused Russia of preventing civilians evacuating to Ukraine-controlled territory.

“Kherson’s 300k citizens face a humanitarian catastrophe owing to the Russian army’s blockade. Food and medical supplies have almost run out, yet Russia refuses to open humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians,” ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said on Twitter.

Russia did not immediately comment on Nikolenko’s remarks. Moscow denies targeting civilians.

Two “super powerful bombs” rocked the city of Mariupol on Tuesday as Ukrainian authorities made a fresh attempt to rescue civilians from the besieged port city, which has suffered relentless shelling since Russia’s invasion began almost a month ago.

Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov talked about the horrors civilians are having to face. “Russia doesn’t want to allow Ukrainian citizens to evacuate to the Ukrainian side,” he said. “They do all their best to evacuate them to Russia, to push them, to abandon their houses … It’s criminal… It’s war crimes.”  

Farmers in Ukraine are continuing their work amid Russia’s invasion, but are having trouble selling their goods.

Ukraine and Russia account for a third of global wheat and barley exports, which countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East rely on to feed millions of needy people. About half of the grain the World Food Program buys to feed 125 million people worldwide comes from Ukraine.

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