The International Committee of the Red Cross said that "immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access" to the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol is "urgently needed."
In a press release Sunday, the ICRC said it is “deeply alarmed by the situation in Mariupol, where the population is in dire need of assistance.”
Russian forces continued to attack the city on Sunday, Ukrainian Capt. Sviatoslav Palamar said in an Easter message. Troops of Azov -- originally formed as a nationalist volunteer battalion but subsequently folded into the Ukrainian military -- continue to hold out in the besieged Azovstal plant, along with other Ukrainian forces as Ukrainian officials estimate that 100,000 civilians require evacuation from the devastated city.
“Immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access is urgently required to allow for the voluntary safe passage of thousands of civilians and hundreds of wounded out of the city, including from the Azovstal plant area,” the ICRC continued.
The ICRC have made several attempts to evacuate civilians from the city with one of its teams detained overnight by police in early April during one attempt to reach the city. After the team were released, an ICRC spokesperson said the incident showed “how volatile and complex the operation to facilitate safe passage around Mariupol has been for our team.”
“Each day, each hour that passes has a terrible human cost,” the ICRC stressed on Sunday, adding that it “stands ready” to help the parties to the conflict to agree upon voluntary evacuation arrangements.
Its teams "are in place to facilitate safe passage operations as soon as such agreement is reached and security guarantees are provided," the ICRC concluded.