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Ukraine war: ICRC to evacuate civilians from Sumy

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is hoping to organise the evacuation of two convoys of some 30 buses with civilians out of the besieged northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy and their passage to a safe area, Reuters quoted a spokesperson as saying on Tuesday.

The ICRC Spokesperson, Ewan Watson, told a UN briefing in Geneva, Switzerland,  that the operation would be conducted with the Ukrainian Red Cross but was not underway yet.

“We are moving towards Sumy with a view to facilitate safe passage of civilians out, we are hoping that does take place as planned,” Mr Watson said, adding that he had no other details.

“We’ve seen humanitarian corridors are promised and not respected,” he said, saying it was up to the warring sides to implement the agreement.

Mr Watson noted there had been delays with similar evacuations from the southeastern city of Mariupol, where he said people are “essentially being suffocated in this city now with no aid’.

“We know of families undoing oil heaters to take water out as a last resort to have something to drink,” he said.

Some 3 million Ukrainians have fled their homeland since Russian forces invaded 20 days ago, according to Paul Dillon of the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM).

They include 1.8 million Ukrainians now in Poland, with 300,000 having gone on to Western Europe.

Among them are 1.4 million children, meaning 73,000 children have become refugees on average each day over the last 20 days — almost one per second, according to UNICEF spokesperson James Elder.

Editing by Tony Okerafor