Conflicts & War

Ukrainian mothers, wives unite to look for lost soldiers

By Luis Angel Reglero

Kyiv, May 22 (EFE).- For over a month, Emiliya has been trying to recover the body of her husband, who died in the war. She is just one of the many other women and mothers of Ukrainian soldiers who are looking for their husbands or sons who were sent to the front to fight the invading Russian forces.

For help with her search, she heads to the headquarters of the Soldiers’ Mothers Committee in Kyiv in the hopes that “they can bring back the body of my husband and all the other Ukrainians” who have perished since Russia invaded in late February.

Dressed in the colors of Ukraine’s flag, the 37-year-old goes to the committee’s building near Kyiv’s main Maidan (‘Independence’) Square, a symbol of the many social struggles Ukraine has seen throughout its history.

She says she hopes to retrieve her husband’s remains for her daughter, Valeria, to be able to visit a site where her father can rest in peace.

Emiliya knows her husband, Vadym Hubanov, died on April 17 in a Russian attack near Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, in which some 20 other soldiers from the 16th battalion of the Ukrainian forces were killed. Still, she has received hardly any information of his body’s whereabouts.

“My husband is a Ukrainian hero,” she says.

Trying to trace her son’s fate, Alla shows the committee a photo of Oleksiy, 31.

This 53-year-old mother has not heard from her son since May 17.

Oleksiy was initially assigned to checkpoints, but then the Territorial Defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine deployed him to the front with the Dnipro battalion.

She knows that 26 Ukrainians died in a Russian attack, including a man who died in his father’s arms during a bombing, but she has not heard anything of her son’s whereabouts.

Valentyna Vasylivna, in charge of the committee made up of around 200 women, explains to Efe that she has been helping women whose loved ones have been deployed to various wars in the past three decades.

The 70-year-old says many women call every day, offering help in any way they can.

Vasylivna adds that the committee depends on donations since they lack institutional support.

Iryna Zinchenko, 56, adds that in spite of this, they help in any way they can, including helping those who lost their homes, evacuating those who need to leave war zones, and rebuilding homes and hospitals.

Italy, France, the Czech Republic and Dubai are some of the countries from which they receive expressions of support, she says.

Every little helps for these women helping mothers and wives at this most desperate time, because it is important that “we are united,” she says. EFE


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