“We know most municipalities in areas seeing the most intense fighting don’t have more than three or four days worth of essentials like food,” Gordon, who is in Ukraine, said in a statement issued by Mercy Corps.
“The reality is that the humanitarian system is entirely broken down. We are not seeing a high-functioning, co-ordinated international aid effort covering the whole of Ukraine, like we often see in other conflict zones.”
Only a few thousand civilians have managed to flee Mariupol, including a convoy witnessed by Mercy Corps.
“The cars are all taped together with duct tape and plastic, packed with seven or eight people in each car. Many of the cars display ‘child’ signs on windows in the hope this would prevent them being attacked,” he said.
“Some have belongings strapped to the roof but many have nothing and you can tell people had to leave everything behind.”
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to disarm the country and protect it from “Nazis”. The West calls this a false pretext for an unprovoked war.
Capturing Mariupol would help Russian forces secure a land corridor to the Crimea peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.