Life in Mariupol from the inside: the bombings have turned the area “into a real hell”

“Inhabitants of Mariupol die every day because of the bombings and the lack of means”, denounces an MSF worker

MADRID, March 24. (.) –

The city of Mariupol has become a symbol of the war in Ukraine due to the barbarity it suffered and the chaos in which it finds itself plunged. An MSF worker who managed to leave the town on the shores of the Sea of ​​Azov says he left behind “a real hell” and fears what may happen in the short term: “This nightmare began a month ago and the situation worsens every day” .

Sasha, who has spent her entire life in Mariupol, gives voice to a context in which, “at first, things seemed more or less normal.” When the bombing began, “our lives were intertwined with the bombs and missiles falling from the sky, destroying everything,” he adds, recounting a life in which he lost track of what day it was and “it was all one long nightmare.”

“In the beginning, none of us could believe what was happening, because in our times this kind of thing just shouldn’t happen. We didn’t expect a war or bombs,” he says, taking stock of how everything changed when Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of the invasion in the early hours of February 24. He spent three days without eating out of fear.

“How can you describe the fact that a person’s home becomes a place of terror?” he asks. Without electricity or a telephone, she was no longer able to do any work with MSF and was practically focused on staying alive, while new cemeteries were being built around her, “even in the small courtyard of a nursery”.

Citizens made an effort to take care of each other, says Sasha, who came to fear for her sister’s life because she reached 180 beats per minute. Over time, she managed to adapt: ​​”Instead of freezing with fear during the bombing, she would tell me all the hiding places she could think of. I was still very worried about her. It was clear that I had to get her out of there.”

They changed places three times and met people who are now family to them — “history has already shown that humanity survives when it stays together and helps each other”–. They managed to experience small glimpses of normality, but they knew they were not safe and tried to leave Mariupol “every day”.

GET OUT OF HELL

“One day we heard that a convoy was going to leave, we got into my old car and rushed to locate where it was leaving from. We told as many people as we could. Now it saddens me enormously to think of all those who I could not contact” , he explains, remembering “a gigantic chaos and panic with many cars going in all directions”.

At that moment, he realized what he was experiencing: “I was aware that the situation was worse than I thought.” “We saw giant craters between tower blocks, devastated supermarkets, medical facilities and schools, even shelters, where people had sought safety, destroyed,” she says.

Sasha is safe “for now”, but she doesn’t know what the future holds. From outside of Mariupol, and now with access to the Internet, she finds no words to describe what she has left behind and to assess news such as the Russian bombing of a theater where civilians were taking refuge.

“We had no choice but to leave so many loved ones behind. The thought of them and all those who are still there is hard to bear. My heart aches with concern for my family. I tried to go back inside to get them out but to no avail. I have no news of them,” he says.

The “nightmare” began a month ago and at street level the needs are enormous, with “unbearable conditions” for a population from which only a small part has managed to escape. Sasha warns that “a large number are still there, hiding in destroyed buildings or in the basements of dilapidated houses without any support from outside.”

And he wonders: “Why does all this continue to happen to innocent people? To what extent will humanity allow this disaster to continue?”

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