25 Feb 2015

Life in eastern Ukraine: under the ceasefire

Many displaced residents in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk still cannot return to their home despite an ongoing ceasefire agreement.

Some of them have nowhere to go because their houses were destroyed during the months-long conflict, while others are afraid of more gunfire in the future.

“The weapons and equipment of the militia are stored right next to my house,” said Svetlana, a 65-year-old displaced resident, who is currently living in a shelter.

“Sometimes when the government forces attack them, we will be attacked in consequence. I have five children in my home, so it is impossible for me to go back.”

See more: 10 days on Ukraine's front line

She lives in the shared area of the shelter so that her daughter and grandsons can stay in an isolated room with some privacy.

The shelter used to be a community cultural center. To ensure safety, everyone has been placed in the basement.

There is a shared area of 90 square meters or so, crowded with abandoned beds and temporary tables that people use.

‘No heating equipment’

There is no heating equipment in the shelter, so some parents use a small heater found in the ruins of a home to keep the children warm.

The woman living next to Svetlana is a retired engineer named Lyuba. Her husband died before the war and now it has destroyed her house. Her only son is working in western Ukraine, leaving him no way to comeback to take care of her at this time.

“I came here with nothing. People in here gave me bread and potatoes. I’m really thankful for everyone feeding me. Now all of us are going through such ordeals. There are people older than me who are still courageously making a living. I will also survive for my kids, my grandchildren,” said Lyuba.