After sending its staff en route to the beleaguered city of Mariupol in hopes to evacuate thousands of Ukrainian civilians, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has announced that it has failed to reach the port city, saying that it was “impossible to proceed.”

In a statement issued on Friday, the Red Cross stated that it will try its evacuation mission again on Saturday. 

 “A team that had been on its way to Mariupol on Friday to facilitate the safe passage of civilians had to return to Zaporizhzhia after arrangements and conditions made it impossible to proceed,” the ICRC said.

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“For the operation to succeed, it is critical that the parties respect the agreements and provide the necessary conditions and security guarantees,” the ICRC added.

“If and when the safe passage operation does happen, the ICRC’s role as a neutral intermediary would be to accompany the convoy out from Mariupol to another city in Ukraine,” the Red Cross said. 

Earlier on Friday, ICRC spokesperson Ewan Watson emphasized during a media briefing that although the mission had been approved by both sides, the Red Cross was figuring out a way to create a safe passage for the convoy.

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“Piecing together this safe passage convoy has been and remains extremely complex,” he said.

The team of ICRC of three vehicles carrying 9 staff members hoped to lead a convoy of 54 Ukrainian buses and several private vehicles out of Mariupol, where residents have been facing a severe scarcity of food and power, according to the mayor.

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He added that the Red Cross was unable to carry humanitarian aid with the convoy and it took off without essential medical supplies that it had pre-placed in the city of Zaporizhzhia. 

“At the moment we do not have permission to bring in aid with us but that is something we will continue to make efforts to try to do over the coming days,” he added. 

“The situation is horrendous and deteriorating. It is now a humanitarian imperative that people be allowed to leave and aid supplies be allowed in,” Watson concluded.