Eking out an existence and mourning the dead in besieged Mariupol
This neighbourhood is in Mariupol, Ukraine. It has been left empty. This port city, with a population of over 400,000 before the war, was a strategic focal point of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. It began five weeks ago and has endured near constant bombardment.
On Monday, nearly 5,000 people were killed. Around 170,000 people are still trapped in ruins that lack heat, water, or food. Many others have fled. Reuters was unable to confirm the figures.
Everyone seems to know someone who’s been killed.
“On March 16, our friend was driving his car when a bullet struck him in the throat. He was gone in five minutes,” said Pavel, a man who stood next to a newly covered grave with a wooden cross near his garage.
Residents have begun to bury their relatives and neighbours in the port city, which has now become a mass grave.
Pavel claimed that he was in the car with Igor at the time, and only managed to get him home before his death.
Russia appears to have attempted to make Mariupol a land bridge, presumably in order for Russia’s Crimean peninsula, which Russia took from Ukraine in 2014 and pro-Russian separatist areas in eastern Ukraine, to be built. It called its actions a “special operations.”
At best, safe evacuation corridors only function sporadic. Residents who are unable to evacuate the city now live in basements and cook what little food they can in the open.
“We cook what we can find among our neighbors.” Viktor, a former steel worker, said that they have found some tomato paste and beetroot. Viktor described their basement as their “peaceful oasis” and said they cook with a basic barbecue.
Lyudmila, a woman who was living in the basement with Viktor, said, “We don’t have anywhere to shower. We are drinking water from God only knows where.”
She smiled regretfully, saying “Not a retirement life.”