All women, children, and the elderly have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol, an Ukrainian official said Saturday.
“This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on Telegram about the evacuation, which took place amid a long, devastating siege of the port city.
Men of fighting age were not included in the evacuation, meaning that many of those allowed to leave had to leave husbands, fathers, and sons behind.
Civilians in Mariupol have had to endure dire humanitarian conditions, including critical shortages of power, food, and water, amid Russia's ongoing military offensive to capture what remains of the key city.
Thousands of besieged Ukrainian fighters were cornered in an underground tunnel network at Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant alongside the hundreds of civilians believed to remain there.
At least 3,309 civilians have been killed and 3,493 others injured in Ukraine since Russia launched a war on the country on Feb. 24, according to UN estimates. The true toll is feared to be much higher.
More than 5.7 million people have fled to other countries, with some 7.7 million people internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.