Ukrainian refugees speak of bombs, half-empty cities, hunger

MEDYKA, Poland (AP) — Yulia Bondarieva spent 10 days in a basement as Russian planes flew over and bombs have been falling on the Ukrainian metropolis of Kharkiv. Having reached security in Poland, Bondarieva’s solely want now could be for her twin sister within the besieged metropolis of Mariupol to get out, too.
“They have been within the basement since Feb. 24, they haven’t been out in any respect,” Bondarieva mentioned. “They are operating out of meals and water.”
Bondarieva managed to speak to her sister on the cellphone. The concern of what’s going to occur to her within the encircled and bombed-out metropolis that’s going by some of the worst preventing within the struggle has been overwhelming.
“She doesn’t know tips on how to depart town,” the 24-year-old mentioned after arriving on the Polish border city of Medyka.
Mariupol authorities have mentioned solely about 10% of town’s inhabitants of 430,000 has managed to flee over the previous week. The Mariupol City Council has asserted that a number of thousand residents have been taken into Russia in opposition to their will.
Bondarieva mentioned her sister informed her of “Russian troopers strolling across the metropolis” in Mariupol, and other people not being allowed out.
“Civilians can not depart,” she mentioned. “They don’t give them something.”
The battle for the strategic port on the Azov Sea raged on Monday. Russian and Ukrainian troopers have been preventing block-by-block for management of Mariupol, the place at the least 2,300 folks have died, some buried in mass graves.
The United Nations says almost 3.5 million folks have left Ukraine for the reason that begin of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, the biggest exodus of refugees in Europe since World War II.
Valentina Ketchena arrived by prepare on the Polish city of Przemsyl. She by no means thought that on the age of 70 she can be pressured to go away her residence in Kriviy Rig, and see the city in southern Ukraine virtually abandoned as folks flee the Russian invasion for security.
Kriviy Rig is now “half empty,” mentioned Ketchena. She will keep now with buddies in Poland, hoping to return residence quickly. “It (is a) very tough time for everybody.”
Zoryana Maksimovich is from the western metropolis of Lviv, close to the Polish border. Though town has seen much less destruction than others, Maksimovich mentioned her youngsters are frightened and cried each night time after they needed to go to the basement for defense.
”I informed my youngsters that we’re going to go to buddies,” the 40-year-old mentioned. “They don’t perceive clearly what’s going on however in a number of days they’ll ask me about the place their father is.”
Like most refugees, Maksimovich needed to flee with out her husband — males aged 18 to 60 are forbidden from leaving the nation and have stayed to battle. “I don’t understand how I’ll clarify,” she mentioned.
Once in Poland, refugees can apply for a neighborhood ID quantity that allows them to work and entry well being, social and different companies. Irina Cherkas, 31, from the Poltava area, mentioned she was afraid her youngsters may very well be focused in Russian assaults.
“For our kids’s security we determined to go away Ukraine,” she mentioned. “When the struggle ends we’ll return residence instantly.”
Poland has taken in most of the Ukrainian refugees, greater than 2 million to this point. On Sunday night, Ukrainian artists joined their Polish hosts in a charity occasion that raised greater than $380,000.
The star of the night was a 7-year-old Ukrainian lady, whose video singing a music from the film “Frozen” in a Kyiv bomb shelter has gone viral and drawn worldwide sympathy.
Wearing a white, embroidered folks gown, Amellia Anisovych, who escaped to Poland along with her grandmother and brother, sang the Ukrainian anthem in a transparent, candy voice as 1000’s of folks within the viewers waved their cellphone lights in response.
Follow the AP’s protection of the struggle between Russia and Ukraine:

Srdjan Nedeljkovic, The Associated Press

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