Mariupol residents ‘starving’ as Russian occupation continues: ‘Things are bad for my family’
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Residents of Mariupol, a strategically located port city in Ukraine that Russian forces have been shelling for weeks, are “starving” as the attacks continue.
The Russian invasion of Mariupol and other key Ukrainian cities like kyiv has forced people underground and destroyed signs of civilization, leaving people without food, water, electricity and the means to communicate with their families.
Maria Smarovailo, a Mariupol native who has since left town, told Fox News Digital that there had been “no food for over three weeks.”
“During the first week of hostilities in the city, residents bought food en masse from the shops,” she said, according to a translation. When electricity, water and cellphone signals were cut, people began collecting snow and rainwater and looting the shops still standing “to at least get some food and water for the children”.
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She later added that the Russians don’t allow humanitarian aid into the city and that ‘a lot of people don’t know that volunteers are working to evacuate people’ because there is no internet or phone signal. mobile phone allowing residents to communicate with each other. Only those with cars manage to help people escape because Russian forces do not allow buses within Mariupol city limits, she said.
Another Mariupol resident of 20 years who left recently, identifying only as Nadia, said “people are starving” and “dying from dehydration” in Mariupol.
“Things are bad for my family,” she said. “They are left without a home, without a town, sitting without food, starving…in a cold basement. There are corpses on the streets of Mariupol that are not even buried. .”
She added that Russian shelling continued to hit the city “24/7”.
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“There is no silence,” Nadia said. “The Russian occupiers are destroying Mariupol, bombing schools, maternities, houses.”
“People are dying every day,” she said.
In their latest update, Mariupol officials said on March 15 that at least 2,300 people had died so far in the siege. But there are fears that the toll could be much higher. Airstrikes last week devastated a theater and an art school where many civilians had taken refuge.
On Wednesday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded around 1,000 civilian casualties in total in Ukraine.
Smarovailo said that while there are “many people left in the city”, the deceased are trapped “under rubble” which cannot be cleared in order to “save them”.
“There is no green corridor,” she said of the humanitarian corridors that Russian forces originally agreed to run earlier this month but have not honored since, according to local officials. “People, at their peril, leave the city limits under fire. Not all succeed.”
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Smarovailo described the current state of the childhood home as a “huge humanitarian catastrophe”.
“The city [has become] a ghost, where civilians are now burying people in yards and houses,” she said. There is nothing to put out house fires “because there is almost no water”.
There are no “whole” buildings or houses, she said, in what was once a “very beautiful city with beautiful people, sea views, [attractions]concerts and renovated parks.”
“Now there’s nothing left of it,” Smarovailo said.
A US defense official said Wednesday that Russia had ships stationed in the Sea of Azov firing on Mariupol.
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More than 3.1 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24, and 13 million people have been affected by the war, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The refugee agency described the humanitarian situation in Mariupol and Sumy as “extremely dire, with residents facing critical and life-threatening shortages of food, water and medicine”, in a March 18 press release. .
The Associated Press contributed to this report.