I found my way into Mariupol where I saw an unusual sight well, unusual for me. I saw a well-known visual reporter. At least I think that was her. I believe her name is Amanpour. Chris or Mary Amanpour. She was interviewing a United Nations official.
The official was in charge of a section of the UN. The UN has many, many sections, departments, and committees. This official claimed to be in charge of negotiating humanitarian land corridors for non-combatants to flee the weapons of mass destruction that were raining down upon them in Mariupol.
The interview took place near one of the many docks of this Port city. Mary, or Chris had both her hands made into fists and she was shaking them at the official who was within inches of her. He too had his hands balled into fists. These were not fists of anger. They were both deeply engaged in their exchange and their fists represented fervent desire and concern.
I eavesdropped as that is what I do. It is why I became a reporter as when I am caught eavesdropping I can explain away my illness as a work requirement. They were discussing the many attempts to obtain that corridor.
He said that he was in constant touch with the Russian Foreign Minister, the overall military commander, the regional commander, and the local Russian commander as well. Mary asked, “What was the result of all these negotiations?” Or perhaps her name is Chris. He said, “We are certainly not done negotiating!” “But what are the results,” she asked again. “I will never give up on these negotiations,” he stated deliberatively. “What has happened so far,” she tried again. “We will keep trying,” he replied. “But has anything happened!” she said with fervent exasperation. He shrugged and said, “No, nothing has happened.” “Nothing,” she queried. “Nothing, I could not obtain a land corridor for the refugees. They won’t let the women and children leave their devastation.”
At least that was the gist of it. My quotes may not be precise. It was very windy and the wind made it difficult to hear. Plus the wind had churned up the water and the sounds of it lapping against the concrete dock made it all the harder to hear.
The UN official turned to leave and out of my mouth, my sub-conscious mouth, as I was not conscious of this effort, I asked, “Why not the sea?” He stopped. He did not look at me. “The Sea of Azov,” I shouted. Still no response. I shouted over the wind, “Mariupol is a port city. Why not take the women and children out by ship?”
Mary or Chris did not hear me as her interview had concluded and she went about her own interests. The UN official’s face formed an unusual expression. I will not use the term stone-faced as a stone face holds a greater expression of compassion than he did at this moment.
He mumbled something I could not hear. As he walked away I went to someone who had stood nearest him and asked him, “Did you hear what he said?” He replied that he does not know English but it sounded like he said “reputation.” “What does he mean by that,” I blurted.
The man who does not know English said, “I will go ask,” and he ran after him. I could see a very animated discussion between the English speaker and the one who could not speak English.
He returned to me shaking his head. I can only summarize his remarks as he spoke very quickly and passionately while all the time shaking his head. The UN official kept talking about reputation. He has a reputation for this. A reputation for that. He has a reputation for his reputation and he cannot divert from it.
I asked the man, “Did he tell you what reputation he possessed?” He nodded. He told me; at least I think this is what he said, that he negotiates for safe passage thru land corridors. I’m sure that’s what he said for when I stared at him in reply he repeated his remark. “Land corridors,” I repeated. The man nodded.
I asked, “If that’s all he said why was the discussion so heated?” I just stared at him and stared at him some more. Finally, he said, “I negotiate for safe land corridors. It doesn’t matter that Mariupol is a port city. It doesn’t matter if we had a thousand ships. I create safe land pathways, not safe sea passages! “I continued staring at him,” the man said. “If we were on an island I would create a safe land passage across the island! It is my reputation!!!