War in Ukraine: Fear of bombings separates families in Sloviansk

War in Ukraine: Fear of shelling separates families in Sloviansk


Their goodbyes over, Svitlana is already on a bus leaving Sloviansk, a city hit by Russian strikes in eastern Ukraine, while her husband Vitaly, who has remained outside, immediately takes out his phone cell phone to talk to him again.

After Severodonetsk and Lyssychansk fell to Russian forces, Sloviansk is seen as their next potential target and the authorities have urged civilian residents to evacuate it.

“I am sending my wife and after I no longer have a choice, I'm enlisting in the army tomorrow,” says Vitaly, 30.

He assures AFP journalists that he will quit his job as a plumber in the service from the waters of the city, which before the war had more than 100,000 inhabitants. 

The convoy, organized by the local authorities and gathered in front of a Protestant church bearing the name of Arche de salut, sets off, with some 150 women and children on board. 

War in Ukraine: Fear of bombings tear families apart in Sloviansk

War in Ukraine: Fear of bombing tears families apart in Sloviansk

Svitlana, 43, who worked as a saleswoman in a store until the bombings the day before, and her daughter from a first marriage, six months pregnant, leave Wednesday for Dnipro (center) and an uncertain future , joining the stream of millions of Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion that began on February 24.

Vitaly, he wants to keep hope. “They had to leave, after what happened yesterday (Tuesday), they hit the city center,” he explains, while saying he is convinced that Sloviansk will not fall into the hands of the Russians and that he will live there one day with his reunited family.

Leaving the dangerous places

But for the moment, evacuation has become the priority and the number of starters is mounted.

“We send up to 100, or even 150 people every day,” said Sergiï Naoumenko, 28, a volunteer from the Protestant Church, who is coordinating the operation. 

“We are looking for to help people leave dangerous places. It is getting harder and harder, because Sloviansk and other cities are being bombed. People really need it,” he explains.

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On Tuesday, Russian rockets hit the market, destroyed by fire , in central Sloviansk and hit adjacent streets, killing at least two people.

These were civilians and for Ruslan, a shopkeeper whose shop burned down, Russian forces are carrying out a “genocide to sow terror and “scare people, so that they flee” Sloviansk.

Those who decide to stay are in shock and denounce the absurdity of the war which kills innocent people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Galyna Vasylivna, a 72-year-old pensioner, mourns the death of another lady at gee killed Tuesday in a bombardment.

“She had two daughters and two grandchildren. Why did she have to go there? She was working somewhere else, but she went that way. Did she forget something? Otherwise she would still be alive, maybe”.