KHARKIV, Ukraine – People’s struggle to survive in war-torn Ukraine continues amid the ongoing Russian war as many forcibly displaced civilians try to preserve life during the conflict.
People whose homes have been destroyed in intense Russian bombardment around northeastern Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second largest city where Russia has launched violent attacks since February 24 – and who could not or did not want to travel abroad or to safer areas of the country are trying to survive with the help of the state and volunteers.
From the first days of the war, some of those who had nowhere to go took refuge in the sanatorium of the Rusha clinic in Kharkiv.
Taking refuge in the sanatorium, Galina Shalaya, 67, told Anadolu Agency on the occasion of World Refugee Day that she lived with her son in the village of Ruski Tishki in the Kharkiv region before the outbreak of the war.
She said they lived in the village comfortably and peacefully before the war. “We had a home. We were living in good conditions. We had everything.”
Shlaya said that they never expected Russia to declare war on Ukraine, because they thought it was “impossible” at the time.
On the morning of February 24, my son came from the market and told me that the war had begun. Shalaya said that Russian tanks were outside and that they were surrounding the village.
Shalaya said that Russian forces attacked their village and when the Ukrainian army entered Russky Tishki on May 7, the village became the scene of “violent clashes”.
A missile hit our house and it burned. We were evacuated from the area with my son Vova.
Shalaya, an elderly woman on a stick who suffers from several health problems and lost her husband years ago, said that her house was completely destroyed by the heavy bombardment on their village.
Expressing the difficulties of displacement in their country, Shalaya said that she wanted to return to the village despite the destruction of her home.
“I have no place and no way to live,” she said sadly.
Shalaya recalls that the Ukrainian army retook control of the village, adding that there were “many violent clashes” when they left the village on May 14.
“Heavy fighting is currently going on in that area. Everything is burned,” she said.
Shalaya said that she only had her son alive and that she could not move comfortably without his help due to her health issues.
“I am tired. It is a disease that I cannot sit down. I can only lie down or walk with a walking stick.”
It alleged that the Russians used cluster munitions during the fighting, and that there were civilians who died as a result of the attacks in the village.
“I had a very close friend. As the poor woman was sitting in the house, a bombshell bit ripped her from life,” she said.
Everything around him is destroyed
Nikolai Mikushev, 63, who also took refuge in the sanatorium, barely holding back his tears, said that they lived with his wife in the town of Stary Saltyev, which suffered the most severe war wounds in the Kharkiv region.
The fiercest clashes there began in May, Mikushev said, adding that their grandchildren took them to the sanatorium on May 30.
All bridges to the city were blown up. Everything was destroyed during the clashes.”
Mikushev recalled that the house in which they lived had become unusable, adding that they “lived in shelters without bread” for two months.
“We became refugees. We don’t know what to do or where to go,” he said.
He stressed the continuing attacks in the town, which is very close to Kharkiv, and not allowing civilians to enter it.
“Ukraine has displaced between 12 and 14 million people, depending on how you count,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said last week.
The Ukraine war has caused “the fastest and largest forced displacement crisis since World War II,” according to Grandi.
More than 4,500 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia launched the war on February 24, according to United Nations figures. (Anatolia)