‘Half of Kyiv population has fled’

Nearly two million people have fled the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv’s mayor has said as Russian forces advance on the city.

“From our information, one in two Kyiv residents has left the city,” Vitali Klitschko told Ukraine television on Thursday.

The greater Kyiv area had a population of about 3.5 million people last year, according to citypopulation.de, a website that tracks population statistics across the world.

Russian forces have reached the northeastern edge of the city, with heavy battles for control of the main highway reported during the night. Moscow has also been making progress against the cities of Kharkiv in the east and Mykolaiv in the south, amid heavy fighting.

Klitschko said the capital had been “transformed into a fortress”. “Every street, every building, every checkpoint has been fortified,” he said.

On Wednesday, two bombs hit two hospitals in a city west of Kyiv, according to the mayor. The World Health Organisation said it has confirmed 18 attacks on medical facilities since the Russian invasion began two weeks ago.

An air raid also hit a maternity hospital in the port city of Mariupol, killing three people, including a child and drawing widespread condemnation.

“What kind of country is this, the Russian Federation, which is afraid of hospitals, is afraid of maternity hospitals, and destroys them?” Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, asked in a televised address late on Wednesday.

United Nations spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said no health facility “should ever be a target” and called for an “immediate halt to attacks on healthcare, hospitals, healthcare workers, ambulances”.

United States Vice President, Kamala Harris, has called for an investigation into Russia’s conduct in Ukraine and condemned what she said were “atrocities of unimaginable proportions” carried out by Moscow’s forces.

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