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the survivors of Mariupol tell a month under the hell of the bombs

In a bus carrying evacuees from Mariupol, as it arrives in central Zaporizhia, Ukraine, on April 1, 2022.

Nadiejda has just gotten out of a car in front of the reception center set up at the southern entrance to the city of Zaporijia to manage the arrival of refugees from Mariupol, a Ukrainian city on the shores of the Sea of ​​Azov, martyred by the war since the Russian attack. Facing the medical staff, she harangues. No anger in her voice, just a survival instinct that makes her raise her voice more than she wants. Speak loudly to try, in vain, to ward off a fear that is rooted in oneself. As if the terror had not stopped when it left Mariupol and that it had not finished with the rain of shells which did not stop falling on its city for a month. A bloody bandage that needs to be changed covers part of his forehead.

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Staying with my husband, her daughter and her son-in-law in her house in the Primorsky district, near the port, still held by the Ukrainians, she tried to get out on foot and by bicycle. “We had to give up because of the bombardments. We went down less and less to the cellar. But on Friday, a shell hit the roof. It was there that I was injured in the skull and in the hand. »

Luckily, the car, which was not hit, enabled them to flee on Saturday April 2 to Mangoush. His forehead sporting a new bandage, his flow of words suddenly slowed down. Nadiejda then plunges her infinitely sad eyes into those of her interlocutor: “I felt good in this country, in my life, in my job, my home, and then it all started. »

“The fear is palpable”

This Saturday, in this center which is always full, the veil of the horror lived in Mariupol can be read in the eyes of all those who have just come out of this hell of fire, without water, electricity, gas or telephone. Children, young people, adults, mothers, old people, hardened men, no one seems to escape it. As if an implacable distance had frozen in a gaze that stares but which, at the same time, we feel clearly sees other images of nameless violence scrolling by. We see the same reality each time. These inhabitants of Mariupol are no longer hostages of a destroyed city, but their minds will forever be marked by this borderline experience between life and death.

A Ukrainian commander rests after being injured in battle against Russian forces, at a military hospital in Zaporizhia, Ukraine, April 2, 2022.

“Nearly 2,000 people arrived by bus last night and this morning, and nearly four hundred private cars are still stuck on the road at checkpoints 50 kilometers from here”, explains Vadislaw Moroko, who manages the flow of displaced people from Mariupol and the surrounding area for the regional military administration. The convoys, which arrived in Zaporijia on Saturday, had to pass twelve Russian roadblocks which are increasing the vexatious searches. But for once, Vadislaw didn’t send his buses to Berdyansk for nothing. The inhabitants of Mariupol had been able to go out and reach this city.

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