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Meet “Nina” (71) and “Ivan” (75) from eastern Ukraine, where the conflict has entered its eighth year.
They are the dramatis personae in a new video/social media campaign being run by IOM to help focus attention on the plight of the three million people affected by the fighting.
In their story, which is an amalgam of several similar stories related to IOM workers, they got married almost 50 years ago and still live in the village Ivan grew up in.
Life was good before the conflict. There was a real sense of community in the village, with family and friends close by. They had two sons and worked as teachers in the local school until they retired.
When the conflict started in 2014, they didn’t think it would last very long. But the fighting soon reached their village. There were days and nights when the shelling was too severe to stay, and they had to find shelter further away. Thankfully, they were not home the day their house was hit.
When the fighting moved further away, Nina and Ivan decided to come back. This was their home and the community pulled together to help them fix their damaged house.
Nina and Ivan’s sons quit the village before the conflict but used to visit regularly. When the conflict started and the contact line, separating government- from non-government-controlled areas came into being, visits became increasingly rare.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, movement restrictions became even more severe and their sons have not been able to visit at all. These new restrictions made it very difficult for Nina and Ivan to get their pensions.
Their children manage to send some money from time to time, which Nina and Ivan spend on food, medicine, heating materials and other basic needs. They can never save enough to fix the roof.
Humanitarian assistance such as coal deliveries by IOM teams, made possible through EU funding, have helped relieve stress on limited resources and allowed them to save money to cover additional essential needs, such as, in the case of Nina and Ivan, much needed roof repairs.