By The Associated Press

Two million people – half of them children – have fled Ukraine in less than two weeks since Russia’s invasion, officials said on Tuesday, as the worst refugee crisis in post-World War II Europe grows.

As the cross-border exit from Ukraine continued, the humanitarian situation in the besieged cities of the country became increasingly difficult, including in the port of Mariupol, where bodies lay in the streets and civilians eagerly awaited reports that they would be allowed to evacuate.

People managed to leave the city of Sumy in northeastern Ukraine by bus on Tuesday through one of the humanitarian corridors agreed upon by Russia and Ukraine on Monday. But it came after 21 people were killed overnight in the city, according to Ukrainian officials, while fierce fighting continued around cities across the country, including the capital Kyiv.

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The video showed buses getting on buses in Sumy on Tuesday, and buses marked with a red cross driving on a snow-covered road as they left the city.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Verashchuk said that both sides agreed to a ceasefire from 9.00 to 21.00 to evacuate civilians from Sumy, heading southwest to the Ukrainian city of Poltava.

Earlier, a video from Sumy showed rescuers pulling the wounded out from under the rubble after the air strike. The woman, who was trapped, survived, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. Rescuers went through the rubble, cut concrete slabs with their bare hands, flashlights and cars to reach the victims.

The video also shows women and children in Mariupol gathered in the basement when artillery fire is burning in the distance. One of the women, Goma Jeanne, complained, “Why don’t I cry? I want my home, I want my job. I am so sad for the people, for the city and for the children. “

In Mariupol, civilians have been without water, heat, sewage and telephone for several days, and many have resorted to looting. The video shows a Ukrainian soldier telling people: “People, be united. No need to panic. Please don’t steal everything. You will live here together. “

Where a small bottle of water was left on the sidewalk, the military said it was for women, children and the elderly, and men needed to look for water elsewhere.

A group of people huddled near mobile phone chargers running from the generator. Due to the power outage, many people are relying on information from their car radios to receive news from stations broadcasting from areas controlled by Russian forces or Russian-backed separatists.


The Russian military said 723 people had been evacuated from Sumy to Poltava. He identified them mostly as citizens of India and the rest from China, Jordan and Tunisia. There is no mention of Ukrainians among the evacuees.

Meanwhile, buses with Red Cross symbols were carrying water, medicine and food to Mariupol, where authorities planned to start excavating mass graves for all those killed. According to Verashchuk, they planned to evacuate civilians from the city of 430,000.

But shortly after officials announced buses were leaving, Ukrainian officials said they learned of the shelling on the way.

It is unclear whether the convoy arrived in Mariupol or managed to get out of the civilians. The deputy mayor told the BBC that Russian troops continue to push areas where people tried to gather before the evacuation.

Ahead of Monday’s talks with Ukraine, Russia said civilians would be allowed to leave safely from several cities, including Sumy, Mariupol, Chernihiv, Kyiv and Croatia. But it was not clear whether there was an evacuation from any of these cities except Sumy. Amid protracted fighting and objections to the proposed routes, attempts to create safe evacuation corridors stumbled.

Ukrainian officials said a safe corridor from Irpen, a city near Kiev that had been without electricity, water and heat for several days, opened early Tuesday. But it was unclear how long it remained open and how many people used it.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday called for expanding humanitarian corridors. In a video message from unidentified places, he said that a child had died of dehydration in Mariupol, which was another sign of the city’s despair.


Russian aircraft bombed cities in eastern and central Ukraine at night, Ukrainian officials said. The shelling shelled the suburbs of Kiev. The bombs also hit oil depots in two other cities.

The mayor of Lviv said that the city in the far west of Ukraine could hardly feed and accommodate more than 200,000 people who fled there. Displaced people are placed in gyms, schools and other city buildings.

Almost two weeks after the fighting began, Russian troops captured the southern and coastal parts of Ukraine, but their offensive stopped in many areas, including around Kiev.


It is estimated that thousands of people were killed, both civilians and soldiers, although the actual number remains unknown.

The UN Office of Human Rights said on Tuesday that it had confirmed that 474 civilians had been killed and 861 wounded in Ukraine since the start of the war on February 24, although it acknowledged that the real numbers were probably much higher.

The World Health Organization says six health workers have been killed and nearly a dozen injured in the attacks. He has confirmed 16 attacks on medical facilities in Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

Ukrainian refugees continue to flock to neighboring countries. Among them are an unknown number of people with American citizenship, although some have not yet managed to escape from Ukraine.


The United States and its NATO allies have rejected calls by Ukraine to establish a no-fly zone over the country to avoid direct military engagement with Russia. But on Tuesday, Poland said it would hand over all its MiG-29 fighters to the United States, apparently agreeing to an agreement that would allow the Ukrainian military to use them, although it was not immediately clear how such a transfer could take place. Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly Soviet-era fighters.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has said the United States will ban all imports of Russian oil, intensifying blows to Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine. However, he acknowledged that this would lead to higher costs for Americans, especially for the gas pump.

Biden’s decision came after Zelensky’s request to US and Western officials to stop imports. Energy exports maintain a steady flow of money to Russia, despite the severe restrictions it faces.

Rising prices for oil and other vital goods, such as wheat, which is used to make discounted bread and noodles, are stunning global markets. There are growing fears that an invasion of Ukraine will disrupt already limited oil supplies, as Russia is one of the world’s largest energy producers.

An increasing number of multinational companies have cut off Russia from vital financial services or shut down operations in response to Western sanctions. Among the latter were New York cosmetic giants Estee Lauder and McDonald’s. The fast food chain has said it will temporarily close all its 850 restaurants and suspend operations in Russia, but will continue to pay 62,000 workers for the time being.


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