Ukraine, Mauripol's siege

Turkey tries to evacuate 30 Turks trapped in Mauripol, Ukraine

Some 160,000 civilians remain trapped in Mauripol, in southern Ukraine, devastated by Russian bombardment and without food or water.

Turkey is trying to evacuate some 30 Turkish citizens who remain trapped in the besieged city of Mauripol, in southern Ukraine, suffering one of the worst sieges and one of the most serious humanitarian crises since World War II, Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu confirmed on Friday.

In a press conference held in Ankara together with the Vice President and Foreign Minister of Colombia, Marta Lucía Ramírez, Çavuşoğlu explained that a total of 87 Turkish citizens have not yet been evacuated from Ukraine, a figure that rises to 190 people if their relatives and companions are taken into account. “Mauripol has been the place where we have had the most difficulties. We welcome yesterday’s ceasefire; after that, it has been easier for our citizens to leave,” the minister said.

Çavuşoğlu also insisted that, after the latest peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine held in Istanbul, Turkey is still working to reach an agreement that will lead to a cessation of hostilities and a diplomatic solution to the conflict. “We have already noted that there has been significant progress in Istanbul, and this must continue. We continue to maintain contacts at all levels, without interruption”, he stressed.

This week, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that a joint proposal by France, Turkey and Greece to carry out a joint evacuation mission from the port city of Mauripol, under United Nations supervision, is still on the table. France insists that Moscow must allow civilians to evacuate the city and go to a destination of their choice, as well as guarantee the delivery of humanitarian aid to the city.

It is estimated that some 160,000 civilians are still trapped in Mauripol, completely surrounded by Russian forces and where thousands of them have already died from the massive bombardments, which have completely flattened this city in southern Ukraine of almost half a million inhabitants, and destroyed more than 80% of the buildings, according to local authorities. If the civilian population is not evacuated, an unprecedented humanitarian disaster is feared, as the city has been without a supply of water, food, fuel or medicine for weeks.