Fighting to Stay Alive: The Prisoners of Mariupol

Of Andrea Nicastro, sent to Dnipro

After the children’s hospital, the university, the emergency services center and other civilian quarters were hit. People live in the dark under the stairs, around the bonfires. The 300,000 inhabitants who have not managed to escape are competing for the few remaining resources. The assault on shops and pharmacies

Irina lives far from the center of Mariupol, in the neighborhoods on the edge of the large steel factory, the most tormented by the fighting. For two weeks, in addition to the fear of bombing, hunger and violence that spread in the city, she thought of her relatives in Italy, without news, terrified and sleepless like her. When there was a little silence, the bombs did not split the eardrums and shook the wallshe would go out with the phone in his hand hunting for a few notches. Every day, until the cell phone was also discharged. Only when she discovered that her car’s tank had been forced open and some jackal had sucked up what little gas was left, he took the car battery, used it to charge his cell phone and found a connection drool on the sixth floor of an empty building.

There is no more life here he wrote to his relatives. We have water from a well, but not drinkable.
For three days no one came to look for the bodies under the rubble of a stricken building. We didn’t know there was anyone. Only when we started to smell did we dig.

Hunt for food

In Mariupol there are people who attack others to steal their food – writes the International Red Cross which has a headquarters in the city and has not managed to evacuate its staff -. The situation is increasingly desperate. Hundreds of thousands of people are without food, water, heating or health care and they need a respite from violence. need to bring aid to the city. All shops and pharmacies were stormed. Someone still has something to eat, but I can’t imagine how long it will last, Sasha Volkov tells the CRI satellite phone. Many parents no longer have food for the children as well Medicines for the chronically ill are also running low, especially those with diabetes or cancer. Only the hospitals still work. Partly thanks to the fact that the city hall distributes some fuel to them. But the reserves are running out.

Even the town hall, which held up in the early days, both as an organization and as a spokesperson for the suffering of the city, now seems to be in disarray. Horrible images of mass graves: corpses thrown to preserve the health of the living. Sometimes, Deputy Mayor Serhiy Orlov said, they have not even been identified. Alex also tells it, in the testimony he sent to Courier service : when someone in the shelters dies of cold or starvation, the neighbors do not think about leaving a note with the name or a document, only to get rid of it as soon as possible. And the municipal trucks that come by to collect them, perhaps after days, between an explosion and another, do not have time to knock on doors and keep a register. The siege transforms people, it brutalizes them. Who suffers the siege and who imposes it.

The dead on the street

Irina, Alex and at least 300,000 people are prisoners of a slaughterhouse city where the dead do not bury themselves, but abandon themselves on the pavement, as far as possible from the buildings, so as not to smell them. Alex is 23 and a digital graphic designer. For him, websites are out of date, he only thinks of mobile apps. At the end of February, with the war started, he was still waiting for his first internship, clinging to the idea of ​​a normal future. Then began the sirens, the explosions, the rush for supplies, the encirclement and, at the first missiles that fell in the center, the si-salvi-chi-pu. I can’t leave. I have to stay with my family.

Since then he has seen his city slowly collapse. Bombs and fear have uncovered the dark side of the human. Shutters torn up, shop windows broken. Hunger, despair, have triggered selfishness. Mariupol returned to the cave age, with people locked up under the stairs, in the dark, around the bonfires, with the fear of going out because, instead of wild beasts, there are explosions. This restaurant has just opened, the food is very good, he bragged about his city. Now the people of Mariupol to barter.

Alex wanted to stay. He knew what he was up against. His testimony among the very few filtered by the besieged city. On the 15th day of the war and the ninth of the siege of Mariupol, the stories speak of yet another human shame.

Another Aleppo

After the explosions that devastated the maternity and gynecology ward of hospital number 2 on Wednesday, yesterday bombs fell on the university, on the emergency services center and again on houses.
Of humanitarian corridors to displace civilians, still nothing. It seems to witness another Aleppo, with the fast button pressed. In Syria, urban fighting continued for years, then the Russian bombs changed the situation, hammering jihadists and civilians together. The cruelty of the Russian attack seems to want to make Mariupol an example for the entire Ukrainian resistance. Those who oppose Moscow should expect nothing but barbarism. In this perspective, the doubts raised by the same Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov on the bombing of the hospital as staging appear inconsistent. A starving city, imprisoned for days, does not need to act out its suffering. Ukrainian President Zelensky faced the controversy head-on as usual: the scenes of injured and pregnant women are not a fiction. They tell the Russians lies and the propaganda amplifies them.


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