WORLD NEWS

Nine volunteer drivers on rescue mission to Mariupol detained by Russian forces, aid group says

Apr 11, 2022, 9:44 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:16 pm
A woman pulls her bags past houses damaged during a fighting in Mariupol, on the territory which is...
A woman pulls her bags past houses damaged during a fighting in Mariupol, on the territory which is now under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, April 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)
(AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)

(CNN) — Nine drivers working for “Help People,” a Ukrainian volunteer group that provides food and medicine for those in need and assists in evacuations, were detained by the Russian military and remain missing, a group official told CNN.

A total of 10 minibus drivers had driven into the Donbas region to help evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol, operating private vehicles in a low-profile rescue mission. Russian soldiers stopped them and tried to get them to drive the buses into Russia. When the drivers refused, they were taken prisoner, said Alex Voronin, the head of the non-government organization.

Voronin told CNN he had lost contact with all the drivers but one.

“All of them carried out the evacuation of people in the direction of Mariupol-Zaporizhzhia, they were sent on their trips on different dates – March 26, 27 and 31,” Voronin told CNN. “Communication with them broke off the next day after departure. According to the people they managed to evacuate, the Russian military took the vehicles with people in Mariupol from the drivers, the evacuees were taken to the village of Nikolske, the drivers themselves were taken away for identification. Some of them are being held in pre-trial detention centers in Donetsk.”

One of the 10 drivers was released, Voronin told CNN, and from him “we know that three of the missing are in Donetsk. They were interrogated with brute force, fed poorly and kept in appalling conditions. All the rest were told they have the right to keep [in detention] up to 30 days.”

CNN cannot independently verify the whereabouts of the drivers or the conditions under which they are being held. Voronin said drivers left the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia and did not drive in a single convoy.

The city of Mariupol has been devastated by weeks of shelling and is ringed by Russian checkpoints. On Monday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed South Korean lawmakers, saying he believes there are tens of thousands dead in the southern port city.

“The occupiers blocked it and did not even allow food and water to be brought there. They tried to capture it in the most brutal way – just to destroy everything in the city,” he said.

Ukrainian officials have said around 100,000 people still require evacuation from the city but say Russian forces have not allowed convoys of evacuation buses to reach the city. Adding to the humanitarian crisis, US and Ukrainian officials and humanitarian watchdogs say Russian and separatist troops are forcing tens of thousands of civilians into so-called “filtration centers” in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic before moving them into Russian territory.

Voronin’s group was formed at the beginning of the war, on February 24, in Ukraine, to help evacuate Ukrainians. He says his group — one of many that sprang up in the days since the Russian invasion — has “evacuated more than 2,000 people, children, the disabled and the wounded, and delivered more than 200 tons of food, humanitarian aid and medicine to the same locations where we are evacuating people.”

Voronin says he does not even know who on the Russian side he can talk to in order to secure the release of his drivers. CNN has not been able to verify the whereabouts of the drivers amid the fog of war and confusion in the frontlines and is reporting this at the request of the aid group in the hopes that bringing attention to the story will bring protection of some sort to the missing drivers.

CNN has requested comment from Ukrainian officials overseeing the negotiation of humanitarian evacuation corridors in Ukraine.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

World News

A destroyed home in Ukraine...
Kiersten Nunez

Local nonprofit aims to fix lost homes in Ukraine

The nonprofit August Mission hopes to raise enough money to rehouse Ukrainians who lost their homes during the conflict against Russia.
24 hours ago
(FILES) This file aerial shot taken on September 15, 2010 shows the disputed islands known as Senka...
Junko Ogura and Simone McCarthy, CNN

Japan says Chinese coast guard ships in longest violation of its territorial waters in a decade

Two Chinese coast guard ships navigated Japan's territorial waters near a chain of disputed islands for more than 64 hours this week
24 hours ago
South African authorities are investigating the deaths of at least 17 people at a tavern in East Lo...
CNN's Teele Rebane, Eyad Kourdi and Reuters

Children as young as 13 among 22 killed in South African tavern incident

South Africa was on Sunday mourning the deaths of 22 young people -- some of them as young as 13 -- at a tavern in East London.
24 hours ago
The eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk is now "completely under Russian occupation," according...
Tim Lister, Oleksandra Ochman, Olga Voitovych and Jeevan Ravindran, CNN

Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk now ‘completely under Russian occupation’ after months of fighting

The eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk is "completely under Russian occupation," the city's head of military administration said Saturday, following months of grueling and bloody fighting.
2 days ago
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 08: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada arrives alongside his wi...
ROB GILLIES, Associated Press

Trudeau: US abortion ruling could mean loss of other rights

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn a constitutional right to abortion could lead to the loss of other rights.
2 days ago
Security forces at the site of a shooting outside the London Pub in central Oslo, Norway, on June 2...
Jessie Yeung, CNN

Shooting at Oslo gay bar leaves at least two people dead ahead of Pride parade

At least two people were killed and 10 others wounded after a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Oslo, Norway on Saturday, Reuters reported, citing public broadcaster NRK.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Nine volunteer drivers on rescue mission to Mariupol detained by Russian forces, aid group says