Mariupol has suffered some of the heaviest bombardments since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Many of its 400,000 residents remain trapped as fighting rages on the streets around them.
Zelensky said late on Monday he was prepared to discuss a commitment from Ukraine not to seek NATO membership in exchange for a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and a guarantee of Ukraine’s security.
Zelensky said he had held a telephone call with the Pope and that he had "told His Holiness about the difficult humanitarian situation and the blocking of rescue corridors by Russian troops."
Tens of thousands of residents have already fled the besieged southern port city, bringing harrowing testimony of a "freezing hellscape riddled with dead bodies and destroyed buildings", according to Human Rights Watch.
Women and children account for 90 per cent of those who have fled. Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 are eligible for military call-up and cannot leave. The initial daily flow of refugees heading west has slowed over the last week and remained steady at around 40,000.
So far, the association has brought 280 refugees to Italy, out of more than 100,000 Ukrainians who have sought refuge in the Mediterranean country.
There are lots of things out there to feel justifiably angry about, deranged even. The war in Ukraine. Food banks. Seemingly ineradicable mysognism. Casual racism.
"They must be in shock ... I know how trauma affects children, I know just having somebody show how much they matter, how much their voices matter, I know how healing that is for them," she said in reply.
With schools closed, high demand for volunteer work, and the absence of men, women's unpaid care burden has increased significantly.