TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa-based non-profit Project DYNAMO recently rescued nearly 500 people in Mariupol.
Project DYNAMO started its efforts nearly four months ago after the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
Founder Bryan Stern spoke to ABC Action News Thursday night after rescuing another 60 people.
"Usually when they cross the border from the Russian controlled areas, Russian occupied area into Ukraine territory, almost all of them cry, most of them, tears of joy," founder of Project DYNAMO Bryan Stern said.
The non-profit rescued women, children, infants and families from the Russian-occupied territories of Mariupol and Kherson.
Stern takes refugees safely to Poland or Romania.
Stern said much of Mariupol has been reduced to rubble. Smoke fills the area from continuous bombings, he said.
He said many people are left behind. They remain trapped without food, electricity, or means of escape.
Each rescue mission is funded with donations.
"Without the generosity of donors, these people are going to get stuck and they’re going to die, maybe not all of them, but a lot of them," Stern said. "This is a from a death toll perspective. This is a humanitarian crisis no different than a large earthquake in Haiti. Their future is unknown. Nobody wakes up and says I hope I’m a refugee one day. No one says that, nobody says, I hope I lose everything I have, no one ever says that."
For more information on Project DYNAMO, visit projectdynamo.org.