“Trip to hell” 23-year-old girl dared to cross the front line and went to the besieged Mariupol to evacuate her parents despite the risk of assault and abduction
5 weeks after the war broke out, Anastasiia Pavlova decided to save her parents from the blockaded city of Mariupol. At that time it was already very dangerous, and only official humanitarian groups dared to go there.
Russian troops laid siege to the city on March 1, 2022, and Mariupol quickly became “hell.” The city has been left without electricity, water, heat and mobile communications since then and until now. Thousands of people continue to die there every day because of the severe unstoppable bombings.
In one of the last short calls Anastasiia had with her mother, she was told “Don’t come”. But the girl hired a driver and a volunteer van and left Zaporizhzhiia, the last relatively safe city on the way towards the front line.
“At one of the checkpoints during the document check, the military pointed a machine gun at us and ordered us to explain the purpose of the trip,” says Anastasiia. She replied that she wanted to help her parents and was bringing the medicine. “I was constantly afraid. I had the feeling that a car is about to be taken away, or I will be shot or raped. You are constantly waiting for it to happen. It’s scary. You understand that no rights are being respected here,” she said.
Anastasiia witnessed dozens of graves in the yard, cars and tanks burning around, holes in the houses everywhere, very dirty people with empty eyes standing along the mined road. “They lost everything and their relatives died,” she says.
Finally she found her parents alive and managed to overcome the hard trip back with them and few neighbours to the territories controlled by Ukraine. Her mother calls Anastasiia a hero but the girl herself feels guilty for all those people she couldn’t take with her. “Every day I find out that one of my classmates or one of my relatives either died there or was injured,” adds Anastasia.