Ukrainian minister provides update on Thursday’s evacuations from Mariupol and other key cities

Evacuees from the Mariupol region arrive at reception center in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on March 31.
Evacuees from the Mariupol region arrive at reception center in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on March 31. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

Iryna Vereshchuk, the Ukrainian minister of reintegration of temporarily occupied territories, said Thursday that 1,458 people reached Zaporizhzhia in their own cars today, with 631 of them coming from Mariupol and 827 coming from the towns of Berdiansk, Enerhodar, Melitopol, Polohy, Huliapole and Vasylivka in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Forty-five buses were going to Berdiansk on Thursday en route to Mariupol and that Russian forces did not let them into Berdiansk, she said.

“600 people came out from (Berdiansk) to the buses and tomorrow morning should leave for Zaporizhzhia. Over 30 buses are staying at the entrance to Berdiansk city (in advance of going on to) Mariupol and (then back to) Berdiansk (to finally deliver) residents to Zaporizhzhia,” Vereshchuk added.

Twelve buses full of humanitarian aid went to Melitopol on Thursday, but the 14 tons of food and medications they were carrying were confiscated by Russian forces, according to Vereshchuk.

“This is the price for the agreed corridors and for the Red Cross’s guarantees that the corridors will be provided and working. We are negotiating for the buses to be returned and for the Melitopol residents tomorrow to evacuate using these buses. 50 private cars and one bus with children left Enerhodar today. They passed all the checkpoints and have now reached Zaporizhzhia,” she said. “Tomorrow we will continue demanding the evacuation corridor for Mariupol.”

Russia will reopen the evacuation corridor from the besieged city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia on Friday, April 1, at the request of French and German leaders, the Russian ministry of defense on Thursday said.

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