Civilians Are Being Moved Out Of The Besieged Azovstal Plant That Had Been Targeted By Russian Forces, The International Committee Of The Red Cross Says

Civilians Are Being Moved Out Of The Besieged Azovstal Plant That Had Been Targeted By Russian Forces, The International Committee Of The Red Cross Says

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23 min agoRed Cross confirms Mariupol evacuation operation is ongoingFrom CNN’s Andrew Carey in Lviv

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working with the United Nations in an ongoing operation to move people out of Mariupol and the besieged Azovstal steel plant, the ICRC said in a statement. 

“The ICRC confirms that a safe passage operation is ongoing, in coordination with the UN and the parties to the conflict. The convoy to evacuate civilians started on 29 April, travelled some 230 kilometres and reached the plant in Mariupol on Saturday morning, local time, according to the statement. “The ICRC insists on the fact that no details can be shared until the situation allows, as it could seriously jeopardize the safety of the civilians and the convoy. Relevant local authorities are communicating with the civilians about practical details.”Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed in a tweet on Sunday that the “Evacuation of civilians from Azovstal began.”

“The 1st group of about 100 people is already heading to the controlled area,” he added.

Mariupol’s city council said Sunday there was a “chance” to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol.

The Council urged people to gather at 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) near a shopping center called “Port City” in order to evacuate them to the southern region of Zaporizhzhia.

“If you have relatives or acquaintances in Mariupol, try to contact them by all ways. Call, text and say that it is possible to go to Zaporozhzhia, where it is safe,” the Council said on Telegram.

“We pray that everything works,” it added.

A local Telegram channel said earlier that through 3 p.m. local time, a “green corridor” would be open for citizens wishing to enter territory “controlled by the enemy in the Kamensky district.”

There are about 100,000 people still in Mariupol, even though most of the city has been severely damaged by weeks of shelling and airstrikes by Russian forces.

Ukrainian officials have been giving more details on the evacuation of civilians who had been trapped at the Azovstal steep plant. 

David Arakhamia, an advisor to President Zelensky, said: “Today is the third day of a special operation we call “Azovstal evacuation.” Since the beginning of the war, since the beginning of the blockade of Azovstal, we have managed to withdraw more than 100 civilians – small children, women and the elderly.”

Iryna Vereshchuk, deputy prime minister, said on Ukrainian television: “Sorry, we were silent. We really wanted everything to work out. Our silence was in order for people to come out alive and unharmed. More than 100 people have been evacuated, and the evacuation continues. All this happened thanks to the control of the President of Ukraine Zelensky, Antonio Guterres, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, for which we are very, very grateful.”

Some more context: Mariupol is home to the Azovstal steel plant, which has been subjected to heavy Russian bombardment in recent weeks. Hundreds of people, dozens of whom are injured, are thought to be inside the steel-making complex.

The Russian news agency TASS says that according to the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, 80 civilians have now been rescued from the “territory” of the Azovstal plant and evacuated to a Russian controlled compound a few miles away 

It’s unclear whether any of them came from within the plant itself, where hundreds of civilians have been under a weeks-long bombardment. 

“Civilians evacuated by Russian servicemen from the Azovstal plant, who wished to leave for areas controlled by the Kiev regime, were handed over to representatives of the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross,” the ministry said. 

The report followed comments from a Ukrainian commander inside the plant who said some civilians have been evacuated from the steel works after the introduction of a ceasefire.

It was hoped that these civilians, all women and children, would go to the “agreed destination” of Zaporizhzhia, Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar said.

CNN’s Kostan Nechyporenko contributed to this report.

13 min agoTop Republican on US House Foreign Affairs Committee is confident Congress can pass Ukraine aid quicklyFrom CNN’s Ali Main and Daniella Diaz

Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee speaks with ABC’s “This Week,” on Sunday May 1. (From ABC News)Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed confidence on Sunday that a new aid package for Ukraine could pass in Congress relatively quickly.

“I think time is of the essence,” he told ABC’s “This Week,” adding that he believes the next two to three weeks are going to be “very pivotal” in Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The Texas Republican said he wished Congress had been presented even earlier with the $33 billion supplemental funding bill for Ukraine aid that President Biden outlined last week.

“I don’t think we have a lot of time to waste in Congress. I wish we’d had this a little bit sooner, but we have it now,” he said, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that if it were up to him, he would call the House back from recess this week to pass the aid legislation.

On Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led an official congressional delegation to Kyiv, where the group discussed humanitarian and financial assistance with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Every day we don’t send [Ukraine] more weapons is a day where more people will be killed and a day where they could lose this war. I think they can win it. But we have to give them the tools to do it,” he explained.

Pressed on the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin may resort to using nuclear weapons, McCaul answered “that’s always a concern.”

He said he thinks Russia’s potential use of a chemical weapon or tactical nuclear weapon would be “beyond the pale” and “crosses a red line.”

If that happens, he said, the US and allies would have to respond “in kind.”

On the Senate side, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez told Fox that they could take up the bill “either this week or next.”

“Either this week, or the next of course, if there is consensus, if there is an agreement, as you know, anything can go through the Senate through unanimous consent,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If somehow there is a desire to start picking it apart or having amendments to it, it could last longer, but time is of the essence.”

2 hr 44 min agoLions trapped in a zoo in Kharkiv are now safe in OdesaFrom CNN’s Tim Lister

One of the white lions is seen in an enclosure at the zoo in Odesa, Ukraine, on April 14. (Str/NurPhoto via Getty Images)Two lions that were trapped at the zoo in Kharkiv as fighting raged in the region have begun a new life hundreds of miles away in the zoo at Odesa.

The manager of Odesa zoo, Ihor Beliakov, said he and his deputy had driven to Kharkiv to collect the lions.

They drove all night to get to Kharkiv, loaded the lions into their van at 7 a.m. and then drove all the way back to Odesa — an 18-hour trip as they avoided the frontlines.

“The lions were silent during the trip. There were no incidents on the way, we were not shelled, nothing like that,” Beliakov said. 

They only had to refuel once, and perhaps unsurprisingly there were no lines. 

The lions are now recovering in Odesa.

“They eat well,” Beliako

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