After fleeing Mariupol, sisters hope for reunion with mother they left behind -Breaking
KYIV (Reuters – Nicole, 21, breaks down as she remembers her mother. She left her behind months ago and has since lost touch with her.
She and her sister Vira, along with Vira’s 4-year-old son, made their escape by foot April 1st. They were on the first leg of a five day odyssey which ended in Zaporizhzia. There they left a note to their mother, written on the apartment table.
The two of them spoke twice to her in April but she has not been in contact. Also, the Russians have relentlessly bombarded their port city, causing fear for her security.
Nicole said that she last saw her mother in “normal circumstances” and declined to reveal her family’s name. Reuters couldn’t independently confirm Nicole’s account. “I couldn’t have expected that I wouldn’t be able call them and ask how they were doing.”
“…It would be impossible for me to go into my photo gallery and view photos of our laughing and having fun. She said, “This is almost suicide,” before breaking down in tears.
Mariupol has been under Russian control since the end of a long siege. The Azovstal steelworks are still in Russian hands. Officials from Ukraine believe that around 200 civilians and fighters are trapped underground bunkers.
In a U.N. Red Cross-led operation on Wednesday, over 300 civilians were evacuated out of Mariupol and surrounding areas in the south Ukraine.
Since invading Ukraine in February 24, Russia denies targeting civilians in “special military operations.”
Russia has made Mariupol a key target of its efforts to isolate Ukraine from the Black Sea and to link Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine to Crimea. Moscow seized Mariupol in 2014.
Nicole and Vira sat together in a Kyiv garden, the trio having travelled all the way from Zaporizhzia in order to reach the relative safety of Ukraine’s capital. Nicole explained that they were always looking for information on Mariupol. We live and breathe the news. Every day we get messages on what’s happening.
The sisters joined a protest in Kyiv’s Independence Square holding posters recounting their ordeal, “66 days of waiting, Save Mariupol, Azovstal”.
Nicole is optimistic, despite the absence of any news. Nicole stated, “Right now, there’s an opportunity to evacuate. We hope that at some point, they will grab their bags, emergency cases… and get out of the way and meet with us.”