From Mariupol to the USA: a family of refugees from Ukraine told what they had to go through to escape from the 'city of the dead'

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A family of refugees from Mariupol went through shelling, hunger, Russian filtration camps and farewell to home – they told their story about fleeing the war in Ukraine with their 5-year-old daughter in their arms. The Skripchenko family now lives in San Diego, California, according to the Voice of America. jpg” alt=”From Mariupol to the USA: a family of refugees from Ukraine told what they had to go through to escape from the 'city of the dead'” />

Photo: Shutterstock

The Skripchenko family recently lived in a bright apartment in the southern California city of San Diego. Five-year-old Anya sorts through her favorite toys while her parents, Alexander and Tanya, prepare tea and cake. Just a month ago, these little joys of life seemed utopian to them. Then they fought for life in their native Mariupol.

“We spent forty days under shelling without communication, water, food, without light”, – tells Alexander, a refugee from Mariupol.

Alexander and his wife call their life in Mariupol prosperous before the war. Together they worked at the plant “Azovstal”. The man also had his own car service, he led a successful YouTube channel, where he told how to make equipment. They had an apartment and their own car. The family loved to walk around their native city.

But with the advent of the Russian army, the walks along the native streets ended, but terrible days in the ruins began.

Tatyana refuses to talk about those days, only Alexander gives interviews on camera. Their house was located in the Vostochnoye microdistrict, 20 km from the border with the “DPR”, from where Russian troops entered. The shelling was so strong that four days after the invasion, the family was forced to move to the city center, where Tatyana's mother lived. However, her house did not have a basement.

“There was no choice – we were right in the house, lying on the floor, the glass was broken, it was cold outside, the temperature was zero in the house, shells, debris to infinity, all this flew from different directions. Since there were close fights, just in our area they ran through the streets, they fired from a cannon, from machine guns. Everyone saw the army “DNR” the so-called, and the Russian army,” Alexander shares.

The family, like thousands of other residents of Mariupol, found themselves in a blockade, the search for food began.

“On the third day when we were there, a shell flew into the store. The store burned out, people and everyone who was nearby… we got ourselves a bag of oatmeal; – Alexander recalls.

“It snowed on the third of March. Thank God, I ran down the street and collected snow in order to get water, I took this water as much as I could into the bath, it melted slowly to cook something. But cooking is loudly said, because shelling. We cooked all this on the fire, and it was dangerous to go out into the street, because they shot endlessly”, & # 8211; tells Alexander Skripchenko.

While they were surviving with their mother, their apartment in the Eastern microdistrict turned into a conflagration.

But the turning point was the day when even my mother's house began to burn. They immediately decided to run away.

“There was nowhere to run, the road was only in the direction of “DNR”. We walked eleven kilometers on foot until we came across a Russian checkpoint. They said at seven – curfew, you can’t go, otherwise they will be shot. We found a destroyed house on the edge of the city, spent the night in the basement and went towards “DNR”. We walked eleven kilometers, then we were a man – male, also civilian – picked up, and so we were taken to the nearest village”, – Alexander recalls.

In “DNR” the family saw how Russian filtration camps work, which they set up right in schools and homes.

“At the filtration … there are special services that arranged interrogations. They examined the tattoos, whether there were bruises on the body, specific calluses from weapons, and were interrogated. How do you feel about the army, did you participate in hostilities, about “Azov”, about the Nazis. The same questions were asked all the time,” says Alexander.

Alexander said that he had not fought, he was a simple worker. He says that they miraculously managed to get on the bus that brought them to Russia. In Taganrog we stayed with relatives.

The family left Taganrog for Sochi, from there to Turkey, and then to Mexico, through Mexico to Los Angeles, where they were received by Alexander's classmate. He says, even with all the circumstances, from Russia, unfortunately, there was a safer way to escape. After all, residents who used the green corridor to Ukraine were shot.

“I wanted to save my child and wife. I didn't have any other goals. It didn’t matter to me which way, even to the sky to run away, so that they would stop shooting, so that the child and his wife would remain alive and unharmed”, – says Alexander.

“I didn't fight. I might have fought, but they cut out my thyroid gland, and I fall asleep… on hormones, & # 8221; – says the Mariupol resident.

The family arrived in America with two suitcases and bitter memories. Friends and volunteers helped them find housing and money. They say he doesn't want to return to his hometown, which he is now.

“When I watch the video, it's a horror that they created, it stirs me very much. But if someone said to return, I would not agree. The city of the dead, where people were buried right in front of the house”, – says Alexander Skripchenko.

Now Skripchenko in the USA is trying to build a new life in a new place from scratch.

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