Conflicts & War

Death, uncertainty haunt Ukraine’s Kharkiv residents

By Carles Grau Sivera

Kharkiv, Ukraine, Apr 20 (EFE).- Lilia has been dodging Russian shelling and airstrikes for nearly two months, escaping death by a whisker inside a subway station in the embattled northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

“In Kharkiv, no Ukrainian knows if they will be alive tomorrow,” she tells Efe.

Lilia says she has only cried twice during the war, the first time was when the onslaught began on February 24, the second is right now.

“I’ve tried not to collapse, but I just can’t take it anymore. I’m exhausted,” says the 20-year-old from inside the Kyivska subway station, in the central part of the country’s second-largest city.

Kharkiv has been one of the worst-hit cities in the war and where an intensifying offensive has been recently launched. Tens of thousands of its inhabitants who have not been able to flee are currently suffering the consequences.

In the past two days, at least 14 people have died amid intense shelling and artillery launched by the Russian forces almost every minute as they attempt to take control of eastern Ukraine.

Like Lilia, tens of thousands of people are now living in the 30 stations of the Kharkiv metro network.

Dozens of tents and chairs are set up in the station. There are dogs, cats, books, pencils, as well as drawings hanging on the walls, with which the children have transformed the station into some kind of art gallery.

“We are scared from day one, but we try to support each other so we don’t get lost in our misery. We are having a hard time putting up with it physically, but above all psychologically,” Alina says as she tries to comfort her friend Lilia with pats on her shoulder.

Kharkiv’s nightmare is far from over. The Russian troops are reinforcing their positions by deploying more soldiers, while the Ukrainians are running out of steam, according to the spokesman for the Ukrainian defense ministry Oleksandr Motuzyanyk.

Vitali Kuchma, the leader of a 30-member unit of the Ukrainian paramilitary territorial defense forces, had four of his subordinates killed since the war began.

“Things are getting worse,” Kuchma tells Efe.

Kuchma finds it difficult to understand why Moscow does not provide a humanitarian corridor for those trapped civilians to escape, something the Ukrainian government has been negotiating for weeks.

“We can’t negotiate with them, they don’t listen, they don’t want to listen to the people of Ukraine.”

But although death is lurking around every corner of Kharkiv, there are many residents who refuse to flee their homes.

In Saltivka, a neighborhood in Kharkiv, people say that the “chances of dying are quite high.”

“It is what it is,” Olga says as she cleans her house after a window was blown out amid attacks.EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button