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'We're really proud of our children': Family of six tell their story of escaping from Mariupol

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By Louise Miner
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More than 100,000 people remain trapped in Mariupol
More than 100,000 people remain trapped in Mariupol   -   Copyright  AFP

After spending two months in their basement in Mariupol, this family with four children packed their worldly belongings and keepsakes to flee the fighting, then walked a hundred kilometres to catch a train at Zaporizhzhia.

Evgeny Tishchenko explained how they went on foot for almost a week before a volunteer aid worker picked them up.

"We walked for five days, from village to village. At night, some old people were sheltering us."

Their strength of love pulled them through, but it has been a tough time for the children on so many different levels.

His partner Tetiana Komisarova said the children had shown inner resolve not seen before. "We had no idea that they were this strong. They’re really really strong; I’m very proud of them."

"I cannot put words to how we feel... We’re really proud of them," Tishchenko said.

Their daughter Anna, who is just 10 years old, explained what life was like in their basement.

"Well, it wasn’t so scary... It shook a lot when they hit the nine-storey building near our basement. There was a lot of dust that fell from the ceiling. (The basement) was full of dust, and it was in the air."

Leaving for Lviv, they look to the future. But the war in Ukraine is something that will stay with them.

"We will never forget what happened," explained Tishchenko. "We cannot. But we need to keep our spirit and raise our children."

More than 7.1 million people are now internally displaced in Ukraine since the conflict began, according to the latest figures from the International Organisation for Migration.

Humanitarian needs continue to soar in the country, with more than a hundred thousand people still trapped in Mariupol.