Manny Marotta: US journalist in Ukraine walks for 20 hours to reach Poland, calls it 'worst night'

Manny Marotta, an independent American journalist covering the war in Ukraine, embarked on a 20-hour journey to get out of the country


                            Manny Marotta: US journalist in Ukraine walks for 20 hours to reach Poland, calls it 'worst night'
'This was the longest and worst night of my life. I'm just speechless,' US journalist Manny Marotta tweeted after reaching Poland (Twitter)
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Russian troops invaded and attacked Ukraine on Thursday, sparking war and killing more than a thousand people. Manny Marotta, an independent American journalist covering the war in Ukraine, embarked on a 20-hour journey to get out of the country. He said he woke up to air-raid sirens and loudspeaker announcements in Lviv.

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"I traveled to Ukraine two weeks ago to try and cover the lead operation for the tensions that were surrounding the possible conflict of Russia. I was documenting the people, I was documenting the culture. But then on the morning of February 24, the morning of the invasion, I woke up to air-raid sirens in Lviv. And then there were announcements over loudspeakers telling everybody to seek shelter, to stock up on water, to help the elderly and the young," Marotta told Fox News.

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"I went with my roommate who was a British journalist to the train station, all the trains were booked. We went to the bus station, all the buses were booked. We tried to look into a car hire or an Uber, or any of those options, and all of that was booked as well. We decided that our only possible option would be to walk from Lviv to Poland, and that was going to be a grueling trek," the 25-year-old said.

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When asked about the situation of the people on their way to Poland, Marotta revealed, "It's an extremely desolate environment out there. There's really not much that is between Lviv and Poland at all. So you would see literally hundreds of thousands of people without any access to food, without any access to water, without any access to a toilet or shelter in the middle of wintertime. It was harrowing, heartbreaking to see young children and older adults trying to reach Poland and a long and grueling walk in wintertime without food or water."

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Marotta said that he saw children being dragged out of bed and families getting separated as Ukrainian men were conscripted to fight on the spot. "It was about 10, 15 kilometers from the border and Ukrainian army soldiers started coming out onto the streets with speakers, announcing, 'No Ukrainian man aged 18 to 60 is allowed to leave the country – you must go east and fight'. They were saying, 'Say goodbye to your girlfriend, to your wife, say goodbye to your mothers and daughters.'" reported Independent.

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He recalled, "I started seeing these surreal scenes of fathers saying, 'I don't want to leave my family,' and Ukrainian soldiers yanking them away. Mothers were protesting, they were screaming, 'Why are you doing this?' There was this guy standing up on a box saying, 'Forget your wives, forget about your girlfriends – you need to defend your country. Don't be a coward.'"

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"It was just tragic – fathers being torn from their kids to go fight in the war. It was harrowing to watch. The toddlers were cold, they were hungry, they were tired. The Western world should be aware of how terrifying this is for the Ukrainian people. They should turn their eyes right now to the fullest possible humanitarian aid for those on the road right now. Those on the road right now are suffering dismally," concluded Marotta, who is currently in Przemysl, Poland with other Ukrainian refugees.

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"Biden's speech has made it official: I am aboard a sinking ship. I am in a country about to be invaded," he tweeted on February 19, followed by the tweet, "The crazy thing about this trip is that I don't actually know when I'm getting back to the US, as there's a high chance that the airport from which I'm supposed to depart will be bombed in the next week."

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"If I've learned one thing from this trip, it's that countries are war are damn scary, especially when you're one of the only Americans left when everyone else, including your embassy, have fled," he wrote on February 24. He gave an update on February 25 saying, "I just walked to Poland from Ukraine. It took 20 hours: - in wintertime - at nighttime without streetlights - in an area being bombed by Russians - with Ukrainian Army patrols randomly conscripting men, so we had to hide - carrying 50 pounds on my back I am safe now in Medyka."

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Another tweet read, "Me: hey can I leave the country Ukraine: all flights, trains, and busses out are cancelled :) Me: what about Uber or carsharing or rental? Ukraine: no :) Me: can I walk? Ukraine: yes but it’ll be 16 hours then 4 hours more for permission to leave the country :)."


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"This was the longest and worst night of my life. I'm just speechless. Anyway, I'm currently in Poland, where a welcome committee greeted us with tea. It was amazing tea," Marotta tweeted after reaching Poland. "Last thing: this was my view as I crossed into Poland at 7:01 AM local time this morning. I feel that it was a welcome gift from nature. I'm so inconsolably happy to be in the EU," he added.

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