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Portraits of resiliance in the midst of the bitter Ukrainian Winter, five years into the conflict into the east of the country
Kyiv — This year the conflict in eastern Ukraine, largely forgotten by the international media, will mark its fifth anniversary. IOM and other humanitarian agencies working in the country estimate that 3.5 million people in Ukraine still need assistance. The number has risen slightly in the past year, due to the impact of landmines and the mental and psychological scars of the drawn-out conflict.
February 2015. In the midst of the cruel Ukrainian winter a family sits in a car in the southern city of Mariupol, shaking with fear and relief. Ten kilometres away, their home is smoke, dust and rubble.
July 2018. “Our village was heavily shelled”, recalls Natalia. “We were hiding in our basement, when our house was destroyed. We had only two and a half minutes to escape while they were reloading. Thank God our car was not damaged. We drove, and shells were falling behind us”.
For most of us, summer is time to think about a vacation and buy something fashionable at seasonal sales. For conflict-affected people in eastern Ukraine, however, it is time to think about next winter and to purchase coal well in advance of the cold season, when the temperature will drop below -20 C°.
Nearly four years of ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine has had a significant impact on all aspects of life for pensioniers like Maria and all communities in the Donbas region. The protracted nature of the crisis has paralyzed economic activity and severely reduced household coping capacities on both sides of the 457 km contact line. IOM is seeking US$37.8 million for its emergency and recovery programmes to the end of 2108.
IOM has assisted over 209,000 vulnerable IDPs and conflict-affected people in 24 regions of Ukraine since 2014.
Eastern Ukraine is shuddering through a fourth winter of armed conflict. Some 3.4 million men, women and children are locked in a dire humanitarian situation right on Europe’s doorstep. We spoke to three women affected by the conflict that has claimed 10,000 lives.