Conflicts & War

Displaced Ukrainians hold on to the few belongings they could salvage

By Lourdes Velasco

Lviv, Ukraine, May 8 (EFE).- Some 88 families evacuated from the frontline regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv with the few belongings they managed to salvage have been provided shelter in prefabricated houses constructed in a park in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

The local project leader told Efe that the families are expected to stay at the makeshift cabins, located in Lviv’s Stryiskyi park, for a period of six months although most of the evacuees are expected to extend their time there.

The park’s trees and ponds bore witness to World War II and now they watch on as people uprooted by Russia’s invasion from areas of eastern and southern Ukraine settle in Lviv’s relative peace.

Eight of those people told their stories to Efe.

Sergei, 65, was having breakfast when the walls of his home in Severodonetsk, in the region of Luhansk, began to shake. An explosion then destroyed his living room wall and he was lucky to survive with only injuries to his leg.

He collected his passport and a jacket before boarding a train to Lviv on March 3, just a week after the invasion began.

“I can’t show you anything more than my passport. It’s the only thing I took along with my jacket,” he told Efe.

A Russian-speaker, Sergei said he doesn’t feel fully Russian nor fully Ukrainian. He said he planned to travel to the Czech Republic, where he owns an apartment.

Julia, 52, left Kharkiv on March 6 with her dog, Dina.

“He’s lost a lot of weight because of the war. Before he was huge,” she said of her pet, which nonetheless looked well-fed.

She arrived in Lviv with her son, her daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. They had lived together in Kharkiv until one day, when she went to her balcony to smoke a cigarette, she saw a bomb fall and detonate.

It was then that the family decided to leave.

Andrei is 30 and father to a two-year-old daughter. His wife is pregnant.

The family survived the bombings of Sloviansk.

“When we could, we took a train for evacuees and came to Lviv.”

Nathalia, 56, is also from Sloviansk. She left her home with her husband and daughter.

She described the hellish situation in the city, located in the Donetsk region, where Russian attacks destroyed the houses of her neighbors.

Nathala, 39, lived in the capital Kyiv, which at the beginning of Russia’s invasion was targeted by heavy shelling. She moved to Lviv with some of her family members and had time to pack a meditation bowl from Nepal.

Kate, 28, salvaged an album of childhood photos when she escaped Kharkiv with her four-year-old daughter Veronica on March 15.

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