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Wednesday, May 25, 2022
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Vulnerability of war

Irina added another routine to her life. Start your day by collecting water. Every morning he leaves the house, walks several streets and queues to fill two plastic barrels. For five weeks the pipes supplying Nikolaev did not work; bombardment in the vicinity of Kherson destroyed them. One more to add to the long list of hardships that war brings.

“This is the least difficult,” says Irina, who has been waiting in line for water for more than 45 minutes. Nearly all the people in line are elderly, pensioners like her, who have decided that the cost of running away is higher than the cost of staying, despite the war. Common in most populations approaching war.

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Elderly people join the list of people who resist attacks and are more affected by the consequences of the war, such as lack of medicine, power outages or having to live in frozen basements because their homes are at the front. lines or were half destroyed. “The biggest problem we have is our security. We have explosions, rocket attacks, and it is very dangerous,” he says.

Irina, 67, who worked as an English teacher before retiring, takes advantage of her morning walks to sunbathe when the cold has receded. A cluster bomb fell very close to his house in early April. Traces of the explosion cut into the asphalt. They are recognized because they leave small circles surrounding the nucleus; like the shock wave that is generated when a stone is thrown into water. “It fell at night; I was in my house and I felt that the walls were moving,” he says, returning to his apartment.

Her eyes watering at times, she says she decided to stay because this is the apartment she bought with her savings and that her pension is not enough to live like a refugee. And she is a widow. He has no one outside of Ukraine. She has a daughter who also does not want to leave, her husband is a military man, and she is waiting for his return.

“I lived in the Soviet Union, and many of us miss some of the events of that time,” he says. Nikolaev was then a strategic place. The city was closed to outsiders and was a strategic center for the military industry. Its access to the Black Sea makes it a strategic location even today, when Russian troops are aggressively attacking it. Its capture is necessary for the capture of Odessa and other Black Sea ports.

Irina, like Lyuba and Valentina, hide in basements and survive on humanitarian aid.

Irina recalls that at that time people were more supportive and had a kinder heart. In today’s Ukraine, there is freedom of expression – he celebrates this – but also more individualism. “Everyone is desperate for more,” he says. Every day he locks himself in his house and never comes out again. Cross your fingers that the attacks don’t come tonight.

“If I had been told a year and a half ago that such a situation would happen in my country, I would not have believed it … It was so unexpected, so terrible.”

On the other side of the country, in Lisichanka, in the Donbass, Lyuba spent eighty days of the war living in the basement of a cultural center. He is 83 years old, and most of the time he spends in prayer near a candle that illuminates the image of the Virgin.

There is no water here either, but the situation is even worse than in Nikolaev. There is no electricity either, there is little food, they have no connection with the world. They only know that the war goes on because the explosions go on; his life today revolves around the rumors that circulate in the area. That the Russians are not so bad, that the Russians are nearby, that they will pay pensions … They live mainly on what the humanitarians bring them, but less and less. The battle for the Lugansk region is centered around the road that connects this city with the rest of the country, but the access to it is becoming more and more dangerous.

“The Russians attack the access roads and thus do not give the opportunity to leave the population alone. They know that if there is a population, we will not attack inside the city, ”explained one of the officers who are moving along this front. There is a shortage of gasoline in the region, it is very difficult to move around the region. At least half of service stations stopped working. And those that do have limited fuel sales, just in case they have stocks. The only thing that is achieved with relative stability is butane, but the queues stand for hours.

Orihib is one of the last Ukrainian-controlled cities in the south of Zaporiye province. The Russians, a few kilometers to the south, are constantly attacking him. Of the 14,000 people who lived there before the war, only a third remained. pensioners and women. Many live in an apartment complex that was attacked in early May; Dozens of apartments were damaged and windows shattered. Gunfire is constantly heard. “They are trying to capture us. Our guys won’t let them in. That’s why they bombard the city with rockets,” explains Natasha, the supermarket manager.

They lived out their youth in what was the Soviet Union. They don’t understand war and they have nowhere to go

The walls of Valentina’s house are cracked from daily explosions. She lives alone. This morning they bring him bread, rice and a few cans. He was born in 1941, a week before the start of World War II. Her mother left her a few days later, her grandmother took her in, wanted to give her away and ended up in a boarding school. She was able to build a life together with Sasha, her husband. But they all died. As well as his two children and grandson. All he has left is his pension and the small apartment he lives in. “They ask me, Valentina, are you leaving? And I tell them no, where should I go?


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