Many civilians stranded as Russian attacks halt plans to evacuate Ukrainian civilians

LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — A second attempt to evacuate civilians from a besieged city in southern Ukraine collapsed Sunday as Russian attacks stopped plans to create a humanitarian corridor, a Ukrainian government official said, and Pope Francis called for an end to the “rivers of blood and tears” created by the war.

Food, water, medicine and almost all other supplies were in desperately short supply in the port city of Mariupol, where Russian and Ukrainian forces had agreed to a 11-hour cease-fire to allow civilians and the wounded to be evacuated. But Russian attacks quickly closed the corridor, Ukrainian officials said.

“There can be no ‘green corridors’ because only the sick brain of the Russians decides when to start shooting and at whom,“ Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said on Telegram.

The news dashed hopes that more people could escape the fighting in Ukraine, where Russia’s plan to quickly overrun the country has been stymied by fierce resistance. Russia has made significant advances in southern Ukraine and along the coast, but many of its efforts have become stalled, including an immense military convoy that has been almost motionless for days north of Kyiv.

The war, now in its 11th day, has caused 1.5 million people to flee the country. The head of the U.N. refugee agency called the exodus “the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.”

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