Italy embassy in Ukraine gives refuge to 20 children, babies

Rome moves Ukraine embassy from Kyiv to Lviv.

Italy has transferred its embassy in Ukraine from Kyiv to the western city of Lviv amid a worsening security situation as Russian troops advance on the capital.

The Italian ambassador to Ukraine, Pier Francesco Zazo, has brought with him around 20 children, including six newborn babies, who had been taken in by the embassy in recent days as they had no safe place to stay.

Italy's ambassador to Ukraine, Pier Francesco Zazo

In a statement, Italy's foreign ministry said the move to Lviv was the taken in light of the "deteriorating security situation and the consequent impossibility of guaranteeing full functionality."

Italy is the latest country to transfer its Ukrainian embassy 500 km west to Lviv over security concerns, following Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Israel and the UK.

In an impassioned speech to the senate in Rome on Tuesday, Italian premier Mario Draghi paid tribute thanks to Ambassador Zazo and the embassy staff for "the spirit of service, dedication and courage shown in these dramatic days."

An Italian who returned home to Italy with his family on Tuesday told news agency ANSA that Zazo "opened the doors of the embassy to us, along with dozens of other people, including many children. We were welcomed into the home of the ambassador who provided us with food and shelter.

The man, who chose to remain anonymous, thanked Zazo and his staff for their help, adding that he hopes his Ukrainian friends "will be able to save themselves, and that this inhuman and meaningless war will end as soon as possible."