Four months into war, more Ukrainians decide to flee besieged areas

POKROVSK, Ukraine, June 19 (Reuters) – Four months into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Lilya, a 22-year-old mother from the eastern town of Bakhmut, decided it was time to leave the besieged region.

“It’s very difficult. No electricity, no water, no gas, nothing,” said Lilya, who would only give her first name, sitting on a train at Pokrovsk station in Ukraine’s Donetsk region and nursing her one-year-old baby. .

“How are we going to live? The bombardments. It became very scary. We decided to leave.”

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With Russia’s intense hammering of the wider Donbass region, which includes the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern and southern Ukraine, for some there, Monday’s World Refugee Day will be one day when they fled their home.

Since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, the United Nations estimates that more than a third of Ukrainians have been driven from their homes, with seven million internally displaced and more than five million fleeing the country.

And while some Ukrainian refugees have since returned home after Russian forces focused their efforts away from the capital Kyiv and attempted to take full control of Donbass, a growing number of families in that region have decided to flee.

“I am a single parent, I have three children, there are no benefits there, the only way to survive is to rely on humanitarian aid,” said Viktoria, a 36-year-old from Krematorsk, a city in the north of the country. of the Donetsk region.

“I’m leaving with the kids so I can get child support.”

The United Nations also estimates that some 13 million Ukrainians are still stranded in the affected areas or unable to leave due to increased security risks, the destruction of bridges and roads, as well as lack of resources.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Sunday the fighting made evacuations from the city of Sievierodonetsk impossible and Russia said it had taken control of Metyolkine, just southeast of the besieged city. Read more

“There is no electricity, no gas, no water, constant bombardments,” says Lyuba, 57, who decided to flee a small village near Bakhmut.

“Life is extremely difficult, that’s why we decided to leave. To save ourselves, our lives, the lives of our children and our loved ones.”

Residents of Bakhmut, a town about 55 kilometers (34 miles) southwest of the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, where heavy fighting is taking place, have come under continuous Russian shelling.

“Our mission here is to move people from frontline areas to safer areas,” said Mark Poppert, a Nebraska volunteer for UK charity RefugEase, while directing people to the Pokrovsk train station.

Kyiv described the Battle of Donbass as “one of the most brutal battles in Europe and for Europe”.

Moscow calls its actions a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and its Western allies say the fascist allegation is baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

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Reporting by Abdelaziz Boumzar; Written by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Daniel Wallis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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