“I’m going to evacuate my parents”

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Kate slowly sands the tinted windows of her car. She can not be trace of the black plastic that hid the inside of her. The Ukrainian Army does not allow driving with tinted windows for security reasons. It is an old, white and small vehicle. She is with Vasil, a friend whom she has met during the days of exodus and who has now become her perfect ally for her next mission: “I am going to Mariupol to evacuate my mother and father. I have to find them”, assures convinced. She says it in a calm tone, but also saddened because the destruction that has devastated the city where her parents live is unbearable. He is 21 years old and was studying Law at Kharkov University.

They have pasted a sign on the car that says “evacuation”, and they have fringed it with white cloth as an ornament to convey the message that they are civilians and not military. “Although by now they are bombing indiscriminately,” the Mint. She is afraid but she cannot live knowing that her parents are in danger. They don’t know that she is going to try to rescue them. “If I tell them, they will tell me not to go,” she says.






Vasil sands the car window to travel with Kate and evacuate her relatives ROUGH PAUL

The car may not be the best, but it is enough to bring her and Vasil’s parents. They don’t know where exactly they are. “There is no electricity or water, there are no connections and there is a lot of destruction. But it does not matter. We will go anyway. I believe that we are going to achieve it”, he assures. He prefers to try it, than to remain lamenting the sad news.

We are in a parking lot of a Zaporizhia shopping center that has become the point of arrival for the thousands of people who have managed to leave Mariupol. Despite the difficulties, people are managing to escape, through humanitarian corridors, from a city that has been suffering for weeks from a merciless barrage of missiles that destroy everything in their path. The opening of this humanitarian corridor has encouraged people to organize in caravans of cars and buses to get as many people as possible out of this hell.






Kate, a 21-year-old student, prepares the car to return to rescue her family ROUGH PAUL

Weeks without contact with their families

Ana has not heard from her family since March 1 and has spent the last few days waiting for an entryway to open to go look for her mother and grandmother. She is 38 years old and explains to us that when the war broke out she fled the city because she was in another part of Mariúpol. She left hoping that the rest of her family would too. “Those young people who have access to information and can move have left. The people who have stayed are not even informed about the existence of the humanitarian corridors,” she explains. Therefore he cannot trust that his grandmother, like the other elderly people, can leave the city on their own.






Dimitri leans on the car door waiting for the route to be cleared so he can rescue his relatives ROUGH PAUL

This woman explains that the image of her city right now is one of destruction and horror, with collapsed roads and streets full of dust and soot. “People have been living in basements for weeks and don’t even know what’s going on outside”, he assures. He denounces that many did not even have food. “People couldn’t even prepare something to eat because there was no gas or water,” she says. She pulls out her cell phone, unable to describe the siege to herself. “Look, before the rubble there were beautiful houses and fantastic neighborhoods,” she teaches us. “This was a nursery where the children learned, drew and danced and it was very pretty and look how it is,” she insists. The bombings have taken life ahead. Those who remain in Mariúpol live behind closed doors, without going outside for fear of being attacked.






Anna wants to return to Mariupol to rescue her 81-year-old grandmother ROUGH PAUL

Today, Ana will make the second attempt to enter Mariupol. The day before she was intercepted and shot at, for which she had to turn around.






Queue of civilian cars leaving Zaporizhia for Mariupol ROUGH PAUL

Mariúpol, the symbol of horror and barbarism

Little by little we see how a queue of cars forms, each one with its own story. Anna is another woman, 34 years old, who along with her mother, Valentina, joins the queue. “We have seen the news of the last few days from Mariupol and I’ve decided to volunteer to go evacuate civilians. My mother, as she is afraid that something will happen to me, prefers to accompany me”, she says. The two look at each other endearingly and smile. Then they take the map that they have been given to see which route they take to fulfill their mission.






Anna and her mother Valentina volunteer to evacuate civilians ROUGH PAUL

Oleg approaches us. A few weeks ago he managed to get six members of his family out, but his 15-year-old son remained inside him. “Today I want to go look for my son”, he says, accompanied by a friend who is also going to look for his family. In the atmosphere there is a feeling of hope that displaces fear. Each humanitarian corridor that is opened is a morale boost that motivates them to continue with the rescues.






Oleg looks at the map that they have been distributed with the route they are going to take ROUGH PAUL

With the departure this Monday of the Associated Press team, the only international press team left in Mariupol, barbarism has been left with hardly any witnesses in a city that is languishing in light of the bombs that fall on the rubble of fragments of lives that every day that passes they continue to break into more pieces.






Andrei volunteers to evacuate civilians ROUGH PAUL

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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