The mayor of Mariupol said, on Monday, that evacuation corridors are largely under the control of Russian forces, after weeks of bombing that left the city in pieces, killed an unknown number of civilians and forced hundreds of thousands of residents from their homes.
“Not everything is in our power,” Mayor Vadim Boychenko said in a live television interview. “Unfortunately we are in the hands of the occupiers today.”
Boychenko called for a complete evacuation of the rest of the population of Mariupol, which had a population of over 400,000 people before Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
“According to our estimates, there are about 160,000 people in the besieged city of Mariupol today, where it is impossible to live because there is no water, no electricity, no heating and no communication,” he said. “It’s really scary.”
It was not clear if fighting was still going on inside the city.
Ukrainian officials claimed that Russian forces prevented humanitarian convoys from safely approaching or leaving the city.
A pro-Russian separatist leader said on Sunday that about 1,700 Mariupol residents are being “evacuated” daily from the city and its surroundings. But Ukrainian officials say thousands have been forcibly “deported” to Russia.
“We need a complete evacuation from Mariupol,” Boychenko said. “Our most important task today is to save every life … and there are hopes that we will succeed. For example, there are 26 buses that have to go to Mariupol for evacuation, but unfortunately, they did not get permission to move,” he said.
“And this game is played every day. It’s a satirical game like, ‘Yeah, we’re ready,'” he said. You can drive there, but it really does not work. ”Our hero drivers under fire are trying to get to places where they can take Mariupol residents, and they are waiting with hope for this opportunity. But the Russian Federation has been playing with us from day one.”
Statistics released by Ukrainian officials on Sunday paint a grim picture of weeks of bombing and fighting in cities in Mariupol.
The data shows that about 90% of the city’s apartment buildings have been damaged. 60% of them were directly hit and 40% were destroyed.
Seven of the city’s hospitals – 90% of the city’s hospital capacity – were damaged, of which three were destroyed. Three maternity hospitals (one destroyed), seven higher education institutes (three destroyed), 57 schools and 70 kindergartens were also damaged, with 23 and 28 destroyed, respectively.
A number of factories were damaged and the city’s port was damaged.
According to those official statistics, up to 140,000 people left the city before the city was besieged, and about 150,000 managed to leave during the siege. Ukrainian officials claim that 30,000 people have been deported from Mariupol to Russia.