Mom in shelter says children starved in Mariupol

STORY: The forty-year-old mother of six carried her seven-month-old daughter in her arms as her other four children, aged between four and 13, played on toy bicycles, colored in drawings and watched TV, finally able to escape the horrors they lived through in Mariupol.

The family arrived at the shelter for children last Thursday (May 12) after a difficult two days crossing the Russian checkpoint of Vasylivka. Zavgorodnya said cars were not allowed through.

“They just mocked us. My child got sick because he slept in the car for two nights. Who would do something like that?" she said.

Mariupol is now in ruins after a Russian siege that Ukraine says killed tens of thousands of people in the city. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled.

At the shelter, the family are provided with hot food from volunteers and the children are treated to chocolate and sweets as treats.

In Mariupol, they were starving. Seven-month-year old baby Ruslana had just started complementary foods but Zavgorodnya was only able to feed her semolina and water.

“She woke up hungry at night because I had nothing to feed her. Just nothing,” she said.

“There was pasta which I was eating, but a child of seven-months-old simply cannot eat pasta, even though she was physically pulling the pasta out of my mouth. She was sitting pulling pasta from me because of hunger. What did the Russians liberate me from?”

The shelter is small space shared by families where doctors are on standby to help those in need. The family’s room has three bunk beds and a curtain for a door.