Conflicts & War

Ukrainian grandmothers displaced by war living on miserable pensions

By Luis Lidon

Lviv, Ukraine, Jun 14 (EFE).- Displaced by the war in Ukraine and with misery pensions. This is the situation of many Ukrainian grandmothers – affectionately called “babusya” – who have lost everything and survive on EUR 60 a month.

Life seems to be returning to normal in Lviv, in Ukraine’s west, considered the country’s cultural capital, since Russian forces focused their offensive in the east.

But that image is a mirage, behind the open premises, the crowded terraces and the street singers that attract crowds, the war throbs with the presence of tens of thousands of refugees from occupied areas or near the front.

Among the most vulnerable are women such as Nina Petrenko from Lisichansk, a town in the Luhansk region that Ukrainian soldiers still control but the Russians bombard nonstop.

Petrenko carries a pink bag with soup, a sandwich and some fruit that she has gotten from an NGO near the city’s train station. “If it weren’t for this help I wouldn’t be able to live, I only have my pension and everything is very expensive,” she said.

At 75, Petrenko said her pay is about UAH 2,100 (EUR 57.) The price of a liter of milk is about the equivalent of EUR 1 and she said prices keep rising.

Her house in Lisichansk was destroyed in 2014 during the first fights in Donbas, but she rebuilt and has not heard of its state since she left two months ago. But she said she is pessimistic.

“It is possible that everything is in ruins,” Petrenko said.

She said she hopes to return to rebuild her house, for the second time in eight years, and go back to planting her garden and taking care of her animals. She said she doesn’t know how to handle the situation.

Petrenko lives with her daughter in a hotel municipal authorities have set up for the displaced. Her son and son-in-law are on the Donbas front, the bloodiest of a war that she has no sign of ending.

She receives food and lodging, but said she doesn’t know what will happen if the NGOs stop providing assistance and the municipality stops offering her a roof.

“We don’t know how long we can stay in that hotel, or what will happen when they tell us to leave,” says Nina, who couldn’t hold back her tears.

“Why does this have to happen?” she said. EFE


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