Conflicts & War

Bunkered down since the onset of war

Tsyrkuny, Ukraine, May 27 (EFE).- Volodymyr is one of the few people left in Tsyrkuny, a village near Ukraine’s eastern city of Kharkiv, one of the worst-hit by Russia’s invasion.

The 61-year-old man has been living in a dark basement since the war began over three months ago.

“When the war started, on February 24, there were twelve of us here,” he tells Efe.

Today, there are just four left, including Volodymyr’s son and two neighbors.

The families with children were evacuated from Tsyrkuny to safer areas, but we chose to stay, he says.

Volodymyr and his companions have been living in a basement equipped with a dim light powered by a car battery, an old gas stove and a sofa, which they use for sleeping.

A staircase leads up to the house that has been untouched for months. A sign reading “People live here” has been placed in front of the house.

Volodymyr’s son, Olexandr, is in charge of cooking. He has been using the vegetables in the garden surrounding the house, but today is a good day.

Mova Life, a local humanitarian agency, has come to deliver food to the village.

Volodymyr is moved to see new faces. He hasn’t seen anyone in a long time.

“Nobody is left outside,” he says, admitting he is still afraid of leaving the shelter because since the war began, they have been hearing explosions on a daily basis.

“We don’t know what is going on outside.”

Olexandr says he hopes this “damned” war will end soon. He is worried for his father, who has suffered from two strokes already.

A Ukrainian soldier tells Olexandr and his father that they should leave. Although Tsyrkuny has been liberated, the front line is close by, he says.

Letters are missing from the Tsyrkuny village sign and the letter ‘Z’, the Russian military symbol, has been painted on many of the walls, a constant reminder of the war.

Still, Volodymyr and his son prefer to remain in their hometown and wait for the war to end. EFE


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