Steve Gordon, humanitarian response adviser at international aid agency Mercy Corps, described convoys of cars that were able to leave Mariupol in the past week.
“The cars are all taped together with duct tape and plastic, packed with seven to eight people in each car. Many of the cars say ‘child’ on the window in the hopes that this would prevent them from being attacked,” he said.
The conflict has forced nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes, including more than 3.5 million refugees who have fled the country, half of them children, in one of the fastest exoduses ever recorded.
Ukraine, with rich black soil, is one of the world’s biggest exporters of grain, and the war has caused global prices for staple foods to surge to record levels.
“The most terrible thing will be the famine that is approaching for some countries,” Zelenskyy said in his speech to Italian lawmakers. “Ukraine has always been one of the largest food exporters, but how can we sow (crops) under the strikes of Russian artillery?”
Within Russia, independent media have been effectively shut down, and referring to the “special operation” as a war or invasion is banned. But there are some signs of dissent.
One of the best-known Russian state TV news personalities, Zhanna Agalakova, a foreign correspondent and former Channel One newsreader, announced at a news conference in Paris on Tuesday that she had quit in protest against the war.
“When I spoke to my bosses, I said I cannot do this work anymore,” she said.
Dmitry Muratov, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in December for fighting for free speech as editor of Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s last independent newspapers, announced he would auction his medal to raise money for Ukrainian refugees.
Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk, one of two eastern regions that Russia demands Ukraine cede to pro-Russian separatists, said the entire region was now being shelled.
“We are continuing to evacuate people for as long as we can,” he said. “We see that … the Russians’ only goal is to destroy Ukraine.”