Epicenter hypermarket in the city of Zaporizhzhia is a strange, if extraordinary place.
Like any barn-like supermarket, you see people as they park, pack trolleys and food out of the hallways.
Alternatively, if you have spent the past four weeks there, you will have seen thousands of people in overcrowded cars, pulling the parking garage into doors, climbing out the door, and staring at their surroundings with something that approaches disbelief.
The supermarket has been transformed into a stage for 60,000 people fleeing from southeastern parts of the country.
It’s not an easy journey to the Epicenter. The majority spend days trying to make it to Zaporizhzhia – the city is their first stop in Ukrainian-controlled territory.
For the residents of Mariupol, the supermarket has become a beacon of light after weeks spent in the ruins of their city.
It is estimated that 100,000 or more are still trapped in the ruins and attempts by local government officials and international NGOs to organize evacuation convoys have largely failed.
A convoy of buses made it to the Russian-controlled city of Berdyansk, returning more than 2,300 to Zaporizhzhia, but attempts by the International Committee of the Red Cross to obtain 54 cars in Mariupol disappeared.
An ICRC spokesman said the parties were unable to “provide the necessary conditions and security guarantees”.
For the most part, those people who manage to escape have participated in their own do-it-yourself evacuations.
Some have cars or know someone with a car and there are others who have been driven out by brave volunteers.
We met a mother of two named Maria Tsimerman who owns a slap-up fan and an extraordinary sense of duty.
She drove in Mariupol to pick up the sick and wounded while leading civilian convoys out of the city.
As a former resident, she says she knows exactly what they have been through.
“Did you drive into Mariupol?” I asked as she climbed out of her white van.
“Yes,” others said, in a matter-of-fact way.
“That’s very brave.”
“Yes, but it’s not the first time,” she said.
“Did you get permission from the Russian army to enter the city?” I asked.
“No, it was my decision, but when I was sitting in a shelter with my husband and my children, we promised each other that we would help people like us.”
I asked Mary about the trip she had just completed.
“The entrance to Mariupol is a really scary thing, because they’re carrying out a military whip. The Chechens are there, (Ramzan) Kadyrov’s boys, it’s scary.
“I advised wounded people, wounded by shelling and it was really difficult. (Russian soldiers) checked everything and they took our phones and money, so yes, it was uncomfortable.”
With that, she smiled and stepped back into the van, but one member of her convoy, named Kateryna, said she needed to add something.
“Many thanks to Maria, we could not even get out of there, we do not know the road, there are no (traffic) signs, we drove under the shelter, around minefields, I just want to greet them.”
“She’s really brave and she drives by herself, in front of a column of male drivers.”
“Can you do that?” she asked.
Ukraine’s War: Supermarket Raised of Light for Those Making ‘Terrifying’ Escape from Mariupol | World news
Source link Ukraine’s War: Supermarket Raised of Light for Those Making ‘Terrifying’ Escape from Mariupol | World news