Meet the residents of Mariupol, cut off from everything since the war

Russia announced that it wants to Focusing efforts on liberating Donbass » This is the eastern region, the historical mining basin of the former USSR. In Mariupol, along the port and especially on eight kilometers from the largest factory in the city, the last battles are concentrated. Report together with the separatist forces to meet the residents.

With our special correspondent in Mariupol, Anisa Al Jabri

eight checkpoints separate Donetsk, the capital of the unilaterally proclaimed Donbass Republic, from Mariupol; I crossed eight barriers with the pro-Russian separatists who accompanied this trip we took.

Before we see Mariupol still in the midst of combat, we hear it: constant fire, continuous shells, deaf, regular rolling, every few minutes. In some parts of the city, the noise was deafening. Sometimes the artillery bombardment is lighter.

But in Mariupol, no one cared about her anymore. Women, children and the elderly: For the past few days, they have come out of basements and shelters. Some stayed there for three weeks. They wander among the rubble among the rubble.

Not a single building escaped him, nor a house. Broken windows, blackened buildings with fires, destroyed floors, charred car bodies … On certain entrances we can still distinguish these few words painted in white paint: “ Here children live Only the churches were saved.

“Tell us what’s going on in the world”

Residents are often interviewed during the distribution of humanitarian aid carried out by the Russian army. Boxes distributed by soldiers bear a “Z” from “Special Operation,” the Kremlin says. Some walk several kilometers to find them, sometimes leaving with piles of boxes in prams.

Many have their hands and faces disfigured, as many cook over open fires outside buildings. No electricity or water. You have to look in the city. Teens are sometimes sent with five-liter containers to fill.

Because there is no longer a telephone or the Internet, in this city cut off from everything, journalists are asked: “ Tell us what is happening in the world .. Will peace come? »

One of my daughters lives in Athens. She doesn’t know what happened to me. Her name is Anna Vladimirovna Khashexternal. She lives in Athens. Tell him, “Father and mother are alive.” ” That’s it

Many of them give us small pieces of paper, with a phone number, and numbers for relatives to call, in Russia or Ukraine. In these hastily written lines, which have been transmitted to us, these few words: I am alive. i need help. »

“It was a beautiful area, Such a beautiful city »

In particular, we met, seated opposite each other on a tree branch, a few meters from the entrance to the hospital, two women still in shock. ” It was a beautiful area, a beautiful city, well kept. It was wonderful, like a dream. Now everywhere you look like a horror movie “Someone says.

When we walk with my husband on our streets, all we see are corpses, bits of metal, bits of concrete that have fallen to the ground. You have to be careful not to take anything over your head. I dragged my husband from his hand, from his bag, so he could move on. We walk down the street and everything is dark, it’s very strange. And all the dead… We took our son’s body and put it next to the house. Who will take it? It’s getting hot now. Who will bury him? He might still be on the ground where we had to leave him. Nobody cares, nobody cares. Nobody cares about us

This woman’s son was burned alive in the fire that followed the bombing of the building. Her neighbor, hiding for several days in a bomb shelter, had to take her eight-year-old daughter to the hospital due to hypothermia. ” We are only waiting for one thing, Says , It’s peace. »

We are so tired. And we want to take a shower. I didn’t shower from the start. I’m dirty like a dog. I was only able to scrub my face yesterday, cleaning up the month-old soot, smoke and ash. This is all nonsense. shit! At least I cleaned my face. Maybe people would dare to look at me now. I was working in a bank, and I met a former young colleague. And this girl, she recognized me, said to me: “Nadia, is that you? Why are you turning your back? I told her I haven’t washed in a month. I’m ashamed to show my face

The arrival of the first Russian assistance. In front of Mariupol Hospital, two water tanks. At first a man fills basins. It is intended for hospital patients. The second is for residents. Long tight queue, cans in hand, quick departure. People often come from very far to get this scarce source of water.

Barely a few kilometers away, the theater district was heavily bombed. And there again, a queue where we hurry. It begins in front of the church and its domes, and still shimmers in this place of ruins.

► Mariupol Testimony of Olga, a nurse at Medina Hospital

People don’t talk much here. They focus on survival. On the opposite sidewalk, a woman came back to her apartment with her windows broken. All in all, it’s better for her than nights in a bomb shelter.

At night, we began to see horrible things moving, like mice. It was scary, horrible. My hands are still black from soot in the basement. We had neither water nor food. There were ways all the time. The ground shook and shook as if we were jumping on a trampoline. When a Ukrainian tank passed by, and when we heard its noise, we were afraid, even in the bunker. Strangely withdrew. It was shooting and going, it was scary

Mariupol seems suspended in a time of terror. Some, once again, grab the arm of every passing journalist to find out the latest happenings. ” Does Ukraine still exist? »

Slideshow: Mariupol, a ruined city

Pro-Russian separatists began distributing SIM cards from the telephone network of the self-proclaimed Donbass republics. In the hands of the residents of Mariupol, always: the fragile hope to finally join their family.

“Do you see how beautiful I am?”

A smiling silhouette advances amid the ruins, against the background of the repeated roar of shells. ” See how beautiful I am ? Yes, I wear a cloak. I cut it at the bottom so it wouldn’t hinder me from walking. I’m a little ugly now. But actually, I’m better. Look, I’ll show you what it looked like. »

The 65-year-old pulls her passport out of the pocket of her leopard print and pink floral dress, and her photo shows, a clean cut with blond curls. Before her world is turned upside down, before she lives underground with her husband.

We’re in a basement, starting our second month in this bunker. We are afraid to live in our apartment. Inside, there are about sixteen people including two children aged eleven and eight. There was one three-year-old, but he was taken away when a heavy bombardment occurred. I’m still an optimist no matter what. »

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