the heartbreaking testimony of a Ukrainian woman from Mariupol who took refuge under the Azovstal site

the heartbreaking testimony of a Ukrainian woman from Mariupol who took refuge under the Azovstal site

An anonymous resident of Mariupol uttered a cry of distress on Tuesday on our antenna. Like a thousand other civilians, she lives recluse in the undergrounds of the industrial site of Azovstal, isolated from a city passed under Russian control. While we lack everything in this ultimate Ukrainian enclave of the agglomeration, she addressed her request to the international community.

Their distress is glaring and they now find themselves at the center of discussions between Russia and the international community. A thousand civilians – according to the count of President Volodymyr Zelensky – currently live in the depths of the undergrounds of the industrial site of Azovstal, the last bastion defended by Ukrainian soldiers in a city of Mariupol passed under Russian domination. Among these refugees, a woman appealed for help, broadcast this Tuesday morning on our antenna, for the attention of the allies of Ukraine.

“My country is in decline”

This woman who speaks to the camera from her basement is anonymous but it doesn’t matter, because after all, as she specifies, it is “in the name of all the inhabitants of Mariupol” that she has chosen to challenge “the whole world”.

“Help us please… We want to live! To live in our city, our country! Normally and quietly. We can’t take any more of these bombings, airstrikes. How much longer will it last?”, she wonders. Referring to Kremlin propaganda, which portrays the fall of Mariupol in terms of ‘liberating’ the city, she continues: “But from whom are we being ‘liberated’ here? I don’t understand…Help us . Stop the Russian aggression against my country.”

Nothing is “spared”

She then paints a terrible panorama: “My country is in decline, my city completely destroyed. Everything is destroyed, not a single square meter is spared.”

“The children here are crying all the time. They want to play and live. The children are asking for your help. Stop this aggression, I beg of you. I am speaking to the President of the United States, United Kingdom , to France. I appeal to Canada, Israel, Turkey. I appeal to you all, help us. Free us and save us. How long can this torture last for our old people, our children, our invalids?” , she explains again.

2000 soldiers but “not a fly”

And the words of the military are no less alarmist than this civil plea. Serguiy Volyna, commander of the 38th brigade of the national navy, expressed himself thus in one of our reports: “We live perhaps our last days and perhaps our last hours. The enemy is ten times more many.” According to the Corriere Della Serathere are still 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers, folded up in the sixth basement of this industrial conglomerate, which has been completely razed to the surface.

A factory around which Vladimir Putin has ordered a passive but strict blockade, so that “not a fly can pass”, in the words he used last Thursday during a televised meeting with his minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov.

Timid international advances

The latter has also just made humanitarian commitments to the press, following his meeting on Tuesday in Moscow with Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN. “We are going to strengthen our coordination in this work, our cooperation in humanitarian aid through concrete measures,” Sergei Lavrov promised to the journalists present, adding: “We are ready to collaborate with the United Nations, its High Commissariat for Refugees and the Red Cross”.

Speaking at his side, Antonio Guterres also mentioned this partnership to try to extricate civilians from the trap of Azovstal. “Many residents of Mariupol need help and to be evacuated,” he stressed, calling for “coordinated work between the UN, the Red Cross and the belligerents to evacuate from the factory civilians wishing to leave”.

For the moment – and after days or even weeks of negotiations between the aggressor, the attacked and the observers – the refugees of Azovstal still do not see anything coming. The international agenda sometimes struggles to fit in with the humanitarian emergency.

Robin Verner BFMTV journalist