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Ukrainian officials announced nine humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians from besieged cities on Thursday, as well as plans to deliver aid to places in need — a day after they said escape routes were being targeted by Russian forces.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the corridors would help evacuate civilians from Mariupol, a city that has been devastated by a Russian blockade and suspected Russian airstrikes, and where Ukrainian officials said Wednesday that Russian bombs hit a theater in which children were sheltering.

“We plan to send buses from Zaporizhzhia to Berdyansk,” a city some 50 miles southwest of Mariupol, “to gather people from Mariupol,” Vereshchuk said in a Telegram post. She said Ukrainian authorities would set up a tanker truck on the evacuation route to allow people fleeing in private cars to refuel.

Other routes will take people to more stable places in the region around the capital, Kyiv, where residential buildings have been bombed in recent days.

The Post’s Sudarsan Raghavan reported live from Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 16 and said citizens have described the current conditions as “Russian roulette.” (The Washington Post)

Vereshchuk said efforts would be made to send humanitarian aid from Kharkiv east to Vovchansk, at the Russian border, as well as to other places, including Hostomel and Bucha, suburbs of Kyiv, and to Semipolky, Markivtsi and Opanasiv, villages to the east of the Dnieper River.

“We continue to develop delivery routes for all surrounded and blocked cities,” she said, adding that “we are stepping up our efforts to free captured civilians.”

Ukraine has accused Russia of taking civilian hostages as part of its invasion. On Wednesday, Vereshchuk said Russians had seized an intensive care hospital in Mariupol on Tuesday. She said that “400 peaceful people,” including medical personnel, were taken hostage and that Russian troops were launching attacks from the hospital. She also accused Russian forces of “firing at humanitarian columns of buses” and at “gathering points” for evacuations, making the efforts unsafe.

In her briefing Thursday, Vereshchuk alleged that Russians had taken several local Ukrainian officials captive, including the secretary of the Skadovsk city council, Yuriy Palukh; the head of the Schastya civil administration, Volodymyr Tiurin; and the mayor of Ivankivska, Tatyana Svyrydenko.



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