“Let us take the path of dialogue and peace! Let us pray,” he said.
U.N. efforts to evacuate people from a Ukrainian-held Mariupol steel plant began Sunday in cooperation with the International Red Cross. Up to 1,000 civilians are still at the plant, as are about 2,000 Ukrainian fighters.
The evacuation effort is coordinating with Ukrainian and Russian officials
Up to 100,000 people could still be in the blockaded city, the Associated Press reports. Mariupol is a key port city near the Crimea Peninsula.
In early April the city’s mayor Vadym Boychenko has estimated at least 10,000 residents have died in the fighting, a number he claimed rose to 20,000 on Saturday, Newsweek reports. In a post to his Telegram channel, he said more than 40,000 people were forcibly deported.
On April 29, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that there have been 2,899 civilian deaths confirmed since the invasion began two months ago, but the actual number is believed to be much higher. The British Defense Ministry estimates that about 15,000 Russian military personnel have died in the fighting, and other sources have estimated thousands of Ukrainian military casualties as well.
Last Sunday, April 24, Pope Francis marked two months since the beginning of the war. He renewed his call for an Easter truce in Ukraine, linking his call for peace to a day when many Eastern Christians celebrate Easter.
“It is sad that in these days, which are the holiest and most solemn for all Christians, the deadly roar of weapons is heard rather than the sound of bells announcing the Resurrection; and it is sad that weapons are increasingly taking the place of words,” the pope said.
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