Ukrainian war snapshots:

28 лютого 2015 р.

Ukrainian war snapshots: Aleksandra Magurova on people who have escaped the Hell of War This Strong Story is a translated excerpt from a blog post by Alexandra Magurova, an activist and volunteer helping refugees from the East of Ukraine, about refugees that fled the city of Vuglegirsk on February 4th from the bombings of the advancing Russian army and rebels. “I will remember this day forever. Very little of what had happened had actually been planned; a lot of it must have been God’s will. At 11:30 this morning I was at the Kiev Central Station, running on the platform to meet people who had escaped from Hell the day before. In total thirty-three people came in the last wagon of the train; these were the people who were escaping Vuglegirsk under fire and explosions. Almost all of these people are related to one another, mostly women, children, the elderly, and handicapped. These people hadn’t previously had the opportunity to leave their city. They had hoped against hope that things would somehow be all right, that the buffer-city of Vuglegirsk, which was at the time controlled by Ukrainian troops, would stand. They had spent weeks in damp and cold basements… but last week, their city turned into a real Hell on Earth. This was not shown on TV, but according to the locals, the city was bombarded constantly. There wasn’t even an opportunity to go outside to fetch some water. Everyone who had had the opportunity to leave the city had already done so; the only ones who were left were predominantly families with many children, the elderly, and the handicapped. They became the victims of this cruel bloody war. Even now as I write this, people remain in the Hell of Vuglegirsk. There is no contact with them, they have no food or water; many of them have fully-fuelled cars standing outside of their homes (or remnants of thereof), ready to flee, but the never-ceasing fire and bombings don’t give a chance to do this. The desperate wrap themselves in white bed sheets and set out to the nearby town of Debaltseve on foot. Today I have heard many stories, seen lots of pain and desperation in people’s eyes, but at the same time I was astounded by the depth of human empathy. At the Kyiv Central Station I was pleasantly surprised by the large number of emergency aid workers and ambulances that were waiting for the refugees to arrive. By a lucky coincidence, while we were waiting for an additional bus full of people to arrive, the Mayor of Kiev Vitaly Klitchko was passing by. Honestly I’d never seen him before, but today it’s as if God had directed him our way. I approached him and asked him to come up and speak to the refugees. And he did: he spoke to the heavily traumatized people, reassured them that he would help. I asked for just one thing: please help us evacuate and look for shelter for the civilian refugees, for those who have lost all of their possessions, money, and hope. Those who remain human and have the right to live. Another unbelievable miracle was that the group “East-Kiev-Help” led by Andriy Lapenjuk was able to take in all 33 refugees. (I can say many good things about Andriy, but his work today was exceptional.) I only got in touch with him on my way to the Central station, and within two hours the refugees were already eating hot food in a warm shelter. Then there was a trip to recover passports for those who had lost their documents, two ambulances for those who needed shrapnel removed and other injuries treated, anti-stress and heart medication, psychologists working with traumatized children and adults, a trip to the bank, and lots of other things taken care of. I’m astounded by the many facets of the human soul: on the one hand we humans spread death and destruction, on the other we do everything to support life. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to leave the city alive. The family whom we’d been supporting since August has lost three of its members: the father of the household, his sister, and the youngest 2-month-old child. These people didn’t even get a chance to bury their loved ones; they fled the city carrying the caskets with them… If there’s anybody out there who still thinks that the war is far away, come and look these people in the eye. Then you will understand that it is already here nearby; it has always been nearby, only some of us chose to ignore it. […] Tomorrow will be a new day and we will work to make sure that these people have fresh clothing to change into. At the hospital, we will visit the widow who has just lost her husband. She is a single mother of five now, with her youngest (sixth) child now Resting In Peace with his father and aunt. We will work to get food and medicine, diapers and bedsheets, clothing and shoes, pillows and blankets. We will be able to do all of these things, to resolve all of these issues, in the name of life. “ Great thanks to Olga Motsyk for translating and publishing on her blog