Conflicts & War

At a children’s hospital in Lviv, young war victims dream of going home

By Lourdes Velasco

Lviv, Ukraine, Apr 27 (EFE).- There is a hospital in Lviv where the bed sheets are printed with pictures of bears, boats and colorful characters to entertain the young victims of Russia’s invasion who have come to receive treatment.

Two of those patients are brothers Sasha and Ivan, who dream of returning to their home city of Kherson to rebuild their home with their father.

For the moment, a dream it remains.

The youngsters escaped the city, a gateway to the Black Sea just north of Crimea, a territory annexed by Russia in 2014, on the second day of Russia’s invasion.

Weeks after leaving their home, the family got into a car crash. Their grandfather died in the accident while their mother is slowly recovering at an intensive care unit at a separate hospital.

Sasha and Ivan have spent nearly a month at the children’s clinical hospital in Lviv, the unofficial capital of western Ukraine.

At least 350 children fleeing Russia’s war have passed through the hospital for treatment in recent weeks.

The hospital said some of its young patients have been injured in shelling. Others have preexisting health conditions for which they received treatment before the invasion began.

The Ukrainian government this week said 213 children had been killed and 389 injured since Russia launched its invasion in late February.

The children’s clinical hospital in Lviv is the largest of its kind in western Ukraine and has treated injured children from across the country, including a child wounded by the Russian attack on the Kramatorsk train station in the country’s east.

Ivan, 11, and Sasha, 7, are from southern Ukraine. On the first day of Russia’s invasion, they heard bombs above their house in Kherson, which is now under the control of Moscow’s invading forces.

Ivan told Efe that he wants to go home immediately. His grandmother said he will have to wait until the war is over.

On the second day of the invasion, Ivan’s family fled Kherson, leaving the children’s father and all of their belongings at home.

They arrived in Lviv, near the Polish border, where they stayed with family.

Five weeks later, on March 31, Ivan and Sasha’s grandfather suffered a heart attack while driving. The family car veered into a van. Ivan, Sasha and their mother were severely injured, while the children’s grandfather died from the heart attack.

Khrystyna Bogatyrova, a psychologist at the clinic, told Efe that Ivan’s mood improves when he calls his father, who is fighting on the front lines.

Ivan has two phones by his bedside, one of which belongs to him and the other to his mother, which he keeps in his sight as it is the only thing of hers he has close to him.

Bogatyrova added that the psychological effects of war vary in the children admitted to the hospital.

“If their parents aren’t dead and they are close to them, healthy children need just a few days or weeks to get the sound of bombing out of their minds and return them to daily life. The images come back in their dreams,” she said.

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