Ukrainian student at Tulane rescues mother, sister from warzone

Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 5:22 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2022 at 5:58 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A Ukrainian man studying in New Orleans has succeeded in getting his mother and his sister out of war-torn Mariupol, but he says other relatives are in harms way and need help.

Tulane graduate student Anton Popiy says the destruction of his hometown of Mariopul is overwhelming.

“Mariopul looks like a graveyard, many troops in the streets, the city is completely destroyed and there’s no life,” said Popiy.

A Ukrainian serviceman takes a photograph of a damaged church after shelling in a residential...
A Ukrainian serviceman takes a photograph of a damaged church after shelling in a residential district in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 10, 2022.(Source: AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka, File)

Popiy says his mother and sister attempted to leave the city through a specially designated escape route 10 days ago, but the Russians turned the tables.

“They said you were going to sleep here for one night and then we’re gonna let you go, but during the night Russian soldiers started to strike,” said Popiy.

After their Red Cross convoy came under Russian fire, his mother and sister somehow escaped through Romania and are now safely in New Orleans.

“You can’t imagine how happy I am, but unfortunately my father is still in Ukraine. He’s of military age and is in Kyiv,” said Popiy.

Popiy says a nephew who tried to escape wasn’t so lucky, he was struck by shrapnel and had to be brought 60 miles to a crowded hospital.

“What they saw in the hospital... so many people with injuries, without legs, without hands... they will never forget it,” said Popiy.

Though his mother and sister are now safe in New Orleans, the horror of Russian airstrikes still haunts them.

Escape from Mariupol
Escape from Mariupol(rob masson)

“Yesterday we were going through Audubon Park, they saw a jet and got so upset they started to cry,” said Popiy.

Popiy believes the fighting is going to get worse and Ukrainian soldiers will need more help.

“We need heavy weapons now because it’s going to be a different kind of war,” he said.

A different kind of war which for now, has no end in sight.

Popiy believes the United States should help enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine. He’s calling on Americans to support humanitarian relief efforts through organizations like Meest and a new one formed here in New Orleans called Kryla, to assist with refugee relocation.

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