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Red Cross teams on the way to Mariupol, but without supplies

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is sending staff to the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and is hopeful that evacuations of thousands of civilians can begin on Friday, April 1, a spokesperson said at a press briefing. However, the body did not receive permission to take humanitarian aid with the convoy, and it departed without the pre-positioned medical and other supplies, he added, with no further details.

“So the ICRC has a team consisting of three cars and nine staff members but it’s now moving towards Mariupol from Zaporizhzhia to assist with the safe passage operation,” ICRC spokesperson Ewan Watson said. “There are a lot of moving parts and not all of the details are yet in place to ensure that this happens in a safe manner today, we remain hopeful,” he added.

The Red Cross team consists of 3 cars carrying 9 staff members and plans to lead a convoy of about 54 Ukrainian buses and an unknown number of private vehicles out of the city. The destination is yet to be determined but will be within Ukraine, Watson added.

People in #Mariupol desperately need a safe haven.

Our team @ICRC_ua is on the move towards the city to help with a safe passage out.

This effort has been and remains extremely complex.

We hope to have the necessary conditions to do this evacuation as soon as possible.

— ICRC (@ICRC) April 1, 2022

Mariupol has been encircled since the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24. Previous efforts by aid agencies to secure access have failed. The Mariupol mayor said this week that up to 170,000 residents were trapped there without power and dwindling supplies while the U.N. human rights team is probing reports of mass graves.

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