Ukraine wants to evacuate two-thirds of residents from areas it controls in the eastern Donetsk region before winter, partly out of concern that people will not be able to access heating due to the war-damaged infrastructure, the deputy prime minister said on Thursday.
The government plans to evacuate some 220,000 people out of a population of 350,000, including 52,000 children, Iryna Vereshchuk told a news conference.
Late last month, Ukraine announced the mandatory evacuation of people from the Donetsk region, which has been the scene of fierce fighting with Russia, in order to save civilian lives.
Although authorities describe the evacuation as “mandatory,” residents can opt out by completing a form stating their intention to stay.
Since Aug. 1, 3,904 people have been evacuated, Vereshchuk said, adding that thousands should leave before winter sets in because the fighting has destroyed power and heating infrastructure.
He argued that the evacuation may have to be expanded to other war-affected areas, such as the Kherson, Kharkov and Zaporizhia regions.
Donetsk is part of the eastern Donbas region, which Russia claims to control completely.