Families in devastated Mariupol face daily nightmare

In eastern Ukraine, families like Mykola’s are suffering amid continuous shelling and no access to basic necessities.

08 April 2022, Zaporizhzhia 3.5-year-old Veronika starts crying, when she has been asked about airplanes.
13 May 2022

For nearly two weeks, Mykola and his family lived without access to water, food and medicines in the encircled city of Mariupol, in eastern Ukraine.

As the war escalates, every day is a fight for survival for residents remaining in the besieged city without water and access to essential services.

“Almost overnight, the lights, heat and water disappeared,” says Mykola, 41. “The gas was also cut a few days later. That's when all hell began to break loose, a kind of stone age. Petrol stations were bombed, there was no fuel and logistics came to a halt. A few grocery shops were running on leftovers. Now, every day there is constant shelling.”

08 April 2022, Zaporizhzhia  Mykola’s family gathered together in the hotel lobby, where they found shelter in Zaporizhzhia.

According to Mariupol’s mayor, 90 per cent of the city has been destroyed by fighting. Families are in urgent need of immediate humanitarian aid. 

After blasts shattered the windows of Mykola's flat, he and his family decided to leave. For a while, they lived in a freezing underground car park, before finally fleeing the city in three cars to Zaporizhia.

Mykola worries about the effect this ordeal has had on his 12-year-old son Ilya. 

“He got worried when he saw that there was water left for a day or two and we had nothing to drink,” recalls Mykola. “And I noticed he had stopped drinking at all. I asked: ‘Why aren't you drinking?’ And he replied: ‘We don't have enough water, let it be for everyone else.’

08 April 2022, Zaporizhzhia 12-year-old Ilya plays with his 3.5-year-old cousin Veronika.

As of 20 April, UNICEF has provided assistance to over 9,000 people evacuated from Mariupol and frontline locations, including 115 people (40 children) evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant on 3 May. The evacuees have been provided with over 30,000 litres of water, 5 metric tons of medical supplies, 1,200 hygiene kits, recreational items, emergency food for children, counselling, and psychosocial support activities.