Fleeing from hell They tell the devastating tragedies of Mariupol

Exhausted and laden with children and belongings, dozens of evacuees from the southeastern city of Mariupol arrived on Tuesday in saved in the city of Zaporizhia, controlled by the Ukrainian government, after being hidden for weeks in the fortifications.
Under the Azovstal steel complex, besieged by Russian forces.

Exhausted people, including small children and the elderly saddled with bags, emerged from the buses in a shopping mall in Zaporizhia in southeastern Ukraine after they fled Mariupol, their devastated hometown.

“We said goodbye to life”

Many of them have recounted the horror of destruction, oppression and siege they have experienced for weeks in city. “We said goodbye to life, we thought no one knew we were there,” said Valentina Sitnikova, 70, who has been taking refuge in the Azovstal plant for two months with her son and 10-year-old granddaughter.

He also added that 17 other families, accompanied by their children, took refuge with them in the factory, but their fortified shelter collapsed around them when Russia bombed the area, noting that Ukrainian soldiers pulled them out from underneath. the rubble three days ago. according to Reuters. She continued, crying: “My niece told me I was scared, scared, and I replied: ‘It’s okay, we’ll go from here. in some way'”.

“I can’t believe I did, we just need to rest,” said Alina Kositskaya, who spent weeks in hiding. in a basement with her bags, in waiting for an opportunity to escape.

Everything has collapsed

As for Tatiana Bochlanova, 64, who is still in Mariupel, she recounted what had happened to the devastated city, stressing that she was so used to the Russian bombing that she did not flinch when the bullets exploded. “You wake up in the morning and you cry and in the evening you cry I don’t know where to go . everything has collapsed, everything has been destroyed”, she said, in front of one of the destroyed buildings, wiping her tears.

He also added: “The bombing doesn’t stop. I don’t know how I’m going to stay here in winter . without roof . without windows . “.

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‘Everyone has forgotten them’

Meanwhile, 29-year-old Ksenia Chebysheva, married to a fighter from the Azov battalion holed up in Azovstal, recalled the fate of hundreds of Ukrainian men and fighters trapped in the huge factory, saying, “We fear the men will be left there after the civilians they will be evacuated . We see no sign of help. “

While another woman confirmed that they are without food, water or ammunition, saying: “Everyone has forgotten them.”

Heartbreaking testimonies.

“The testimonies received by the mission are heartbreaking,” said Pascal Hundt, head of the ICRC delegation. in Ukraine. “We were hoping that more people could join this caravan and get out of hell.”

He also stressed that “there are many who really want to leave, but have been trapped by the hostilities”. He stressed the need to alleviate the suffering of civilians trapped in the city, which has come under Russian control, saying: “Many evacuations should be carried out urgently.”

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200 civilians in Azovstal

Interestingly, there are still more than 200 civilians in the Azovstal steel mill, according to Vadim Boychenko, Mayor of Mariupol, with a total of around 100,000 civilians in the city, which was destroyed by Russian siege and bombing for weeks. .

Meanwhile, the vast Azovstal industrial complex, its bunkers and tunnels, have become a refuge for many Ukrainian civilians and fighters.

The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross coordinated the evacuation of the city to remove women, children and the elderly from the steel plant, which began on April 29 and lasted for five days. “Thanks to this operation, 101 women, men, children and the elderly were finally there in able to leave the bunkers under the Azovstal steel complex and see the sunlight after two months of siege, “said Osnat Lubrani, UN relief coordinator for Ukraine.

Since the launch of the Russian military operation on the lands of its western neighbor on February 24, Mariupol, overlooking the Sea of ​​Azov, has been a strategic target for Moscow, as its control will open a land corridor for the movement of Russian forces between the Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

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