Zelensky announces mandatory evacuation of Donetsk region

(CNN) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the remaining residents of the Donetsk region to urgently evacuate. “There is a government decision on the mandatory evacuation of the Donetsk region,” Zelensky said in his late-night speech on Saturday.

“Everything is getting organized. Full support, full assistance, both logistics and payments. We just need a decision from the people themselves, who haven’t made it for themselves yet.”

“And the sooner it’s done, the more people leave the Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army can kill,” he added.

Zelensky urged Ukrainians who have the opportunity to speak with “those who remain in the combat zones in Donbas” to convince their compatriots that it is necessary to leave, “especially if they are families with children.”

The Ukrainian president emphasized that “there are hundreds of thousands of people, tens of thousands of children” who remain in the Donbas region at the moment.

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, told Ukrainian media early Saturday that there is no gas supply in the Donetsk region at the moment and “there will be no heating in the Donetsk region in winter.”

The Ukrainian government has created a coordination center to help evacuate residents of the Donetsk region to safer parts of Ukraine, Vereshchuk said. The evacuation will be carried out by trains and buses, he added.

Vereshchuk noted that there are “52,000 children in the Donetsk region” at the moment.

People who refuse to evacuate will have to sign “a certain form of refusal of mandatory evacuation” stating that they understand and are aware of all the consequences of staying in combat zones and take personal responsibility for their lives, Vereshchuk added.

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