Latest Russia-Ukraine war news: Live updates

The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that the worst awaits residents trapped in besieged Mariupol if Russia and Ukraine cannot agree on ways to evacuate them to other cities.

“A worst-case scenario awaits the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped by heavy combat in Mariupol unless the parties reach a concrete humanitarian agreement urgently,” the ICRC said Sunday in a statement, citing eyewitness accounts by its “operational leader in Mariupol.”

Mariupol, Ukraine, residents spoke March 9 about living under siege after the Russian military used intense shelling to attack the city. (The Washington Post)

Mariupol, a city of more than 400,000 people that lies on the Sea of Azov in southern Ukraine, has been surrounded by Russian forces for two weeks. Attempts to evacuate civilians have failed, and a humanitarian convoy headed to Mariupol on Sunday with food and medicine never left a nearby town because of Russian bombing, Ukrainian officials said.

The ICRC in its statement described horrific conditions in the city, with “extreme or total shortages of basic necessities like food, water and medicine,” and with “people of all ages … sheltering in unheated basements.”

“Dead bodies, of civilians and combatants, remain trapped under the rubble or lying in the open where they fell. Life-changing injuries and chronic, debilitating conditions cannot be treated. The human suffering is simply immense,” the statement said.

The ICRC statement called on Russia and Ukraine to agree to a “concrete, precise, actionable” plan to evacuate those wishing to leave Mariupol and to get humanitarian aid to those staying behind.

Both sides have previously announced their own cease-fires and humanitarian corridors without agreement from the other, leading to confusion. “All those participating in the fighting need to agree to the modalities and timing of a ceasefire, the precise locations of the safe passage route, and then ensure that the agreement is respected,” the ICRC said, adding that it is ready to act as a mediator to broker such an agreement.

“History will look back at what is now happening in Mariupol with horror if no agreement is reached by the sides as quickly as possible,” it said.






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