UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. humanitarian chief in Ukraine says about 30 people who came out of the besieged Avostal steel plant in Mariupol chose not to leave the city, saying they were “horrified” at its total devastation and first wanted to find out if their loved ones were still alive.
Osnat Lubrani told a virtual press conference from the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia soon after the arrival on Tuesday of 127 people evacuated from the plant and the town of Manhush on Mariupol’s outskirts that she wants to believe the successful operation will be “a stepping stone to more such operations” from Avostal and other towns and cities being shelled and bombarded by the Russians.
She said “there is knowledge that there are civilians still trapped in the Avostal plant,” but the U.N. has no numbers.
“Some of them may have been afraid to come out, some of them probably couldn’t make it,” Lubrani said. “It’s a huge area” and some of the elderly people could hardly walk and a broken bus with flat tires was used to help some of them leave.
Speaking of the people who wanted to stay in Mariupol, she said, “These are people that have lived their lives and worked in Mariupol and so it was difficult for them to just leave without knowing what the fate of their loved ones is.”
Lubrani said the people still trapped underground in the Avostal plant will hear about the safe evacuation to Zaporizhzhia which is very important, “so if we do another operation, I think hopefully more will come out.”