A crowdfunding campaign has been launched for the 130,000 residents of the besieged city of Mariupol who “are fighting to survive” as they have been displaced to other parts of Ukraine by the Russian military occupation.
The Mariupol City Council launched an appeal to help its residents access food, financial assistance and other vital support through “I am Mariupol” centres which have so far opened in Dnipro, Kyiv, Vinnytsia and Zaporizhzhia.
The Deputy Mayor of Mariupol, Sergei Orlov, told i the centres offer refuge to those who have fled the southeastern port city, which was forced to surrender in mid-May after enduring the most devastating siege of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
It is thought that more than 20,000 people have been killed in the Black Sea port city since the war began on 24 February. Russia has been accused of war crimes in Mariupol as it allegedly targeted a maternity hospital, killing three people, as well as a theatre where 1,000 people were thought to have been sheltering and where 600 people are estimated to have been killed. Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians.
The city’s infrastructure has been destroyed by 90 per cent, Mr Orlov previously said, while there are 150,000 residents left, down from the nearly half a million before the war.
Appealing to the international community to donate and support people from his city, Mr Orlov said: “We have a lot of words but maybe the best words are that here in Ukraine we are fighting to survive.
“This Russian occupation army wants to destroy Ukraine as a nation and we should be brave and alive and support each other to survive, that’s why it’s very important to support Mariupol citizens under occupation.
“We believe these people can return after the war but now is the time to help, to show how worldwide support that will give them the power to leave and return to liberated Mariupol.”
Mr Orlov said the centres have already proven to act as a safe place for those in need thanks to them being welcomed by staff who are also from Mariupol.
“When these displaced people arrive to the centres some are angry, some are sad they think that no one can imagine what was in Mariupol, what they left.
“They are looking for friends and relatives, people open their minds and hearts, it’s a very emotional situation for Mariupol citizens.”
To donate, follow the link here.