Residents see little respite in war-ravaged eastern Ukraine

September 6, 2014 | By | Reply More

Sep 06, – After weeks holed up in a dank college basement, residents of the small eastern Ukrainian town of Yasinuvata say they have little faith that the ceasefire declared Friday will actually halt the fighting that has devastated their lives.

hromedia Residents see little respite in war-ravaged eastern Ukraine eu news3Just as the truce between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels was being announced, terrified civilians rushed to a shelter as the roar of bombardments sounded nearby.

“No electricity… no lights, look how people live here,” said Natalia as she gave a tour of the site where residents have been camped out for about two months, the stench strong in the airless basement.

Their nerves have been shattered by the relentless fighting in and around the main rebel bastion of Donetsk, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) to the south.

Under flickering candlelight, women tending to their young babies sat on mats or camp beds, while an old man perched on a bed with his leg bandaged.

The rumble of rockets lasted about 30 seconds. Natalia said it was the pro-Kremlin separatists fighting back after a bombardment by Ukrainian forces about two hours earlier.

“It’s like that every day. Night and day,” said an elderly lady who gave her name only as Alexandra.

“We do not believe in the ceasefire, we can not believe these people!” declared an exasperated Natalia.

As an important rail hub in the region, Yasinuvata itself became a key target of fighting that has left the town without train links and facing water shortages.

“No therapy will help us overcome it,” said Natalia. “I wish that all these guys in the government had to live how we are living.”

– ‘I want to see the sun’ –

In the basement, Ukraine’s pro-Western leadership had clearly lost the battle to win hearts and minds.

The gaping hole in the wall near the putrid toilet on the ground floor of the technical college building was caused by a tank shell fired by loyalist forces in July, said 19-year-old Maria.

“The Ukrainian soldiers met us, they showed us their weapons. They said nothing and half an hour later, they fired,” said Marina, 19, who lives here with her daughter of just four months.

Those camped out are almost all women and children.

“This is because almost all the men have joined the ranks of the DPR,” said Tatiana, referring to the Donetsk People’s Republic declared by the rebels earlier this year.

But the ragtag collection of men gathered on the separatist barricades in the town bear little resemblance to the well-armed disciplined rebel fighters in control in many other areas of eastern Ukraine.

“There are no Russians here!” said one of the men, dismissing widespread Western claims that Russian troops are backing a resurgent rebellion by the separatists that saw them overrun swathes of territory in the southeast.

Despite the ceasefire, the pro-Russian fighters have vowed not to let up in their drive to create a separate state outside Kiev’s rule.

But for Irina, 33, the political goals were less important.

“I do not care who governs me. But I do not want to live in this cellar any more. I want to see the sun.”

Press journalist for HRO Media – Norberto Lluch reports.

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Category: European Crises

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