Marion Péhée : Family in Ukraine – 5 years of conflict
We are in Ukraine, in Donbass, and here the war has raged for five years now, killing more than 10,000 people. Before the conflict, Ira and her family lived in Donetsk today, a self-proclaimed popular republic and a zone in the hands of pro-Russian separatists. For this Ukrainian family, it was inconceivable to stay in this territory: “I am Ukrainian, I want to live in Ukraine”.
Ira, a former economist secretary, fled her apartment where she lived with her son Artiom, who was then three years old at the time. From the beginning of the conflict, after she quickly lost her job, she made the decision to go to her dacha (Ukrainian side), which she had previously occupied only during the summer period – taking her son and the rest of her family with her. As soon as they arrived at their dacha in Bakhmutka Ira and her family started to grow fruits and vegetables to support themselves. After a year of war, Masha (her mother) had exhausted all her savings. Ira insists that it is the humanitarian aid that saved them.
In November 2016, at the beginning of this reportage, in Bakhmutka, it had been six months since the village 3km from the front line has been plunged into darkness.
All are then without water or electricity. To wash, they draw water using a pump in the river. The only source of drinking water comes from a well available to the inhabitants.
For lack of means, Ira and her group are unable to leave this region; for 5 years they have lived to the rhythm of the war in the Donbass.
In September 2017, Ira decided to leave her family and Bakhmutka to move with her companion Sacha to Ivanhrad (located 6km from Bakhmutka) in order to get away from the front line and to be able to send her son Artiom to school. In this village, they make a living from agricultural work; every morning, Ira takes out the cows and returns them for milking each evening. Thus, on the market and three times a week, she sells her butter, milk and liquor and earns, with this activity, between 800/1000 UAH / week or between 26 and 33 €.
However, this family, like many families in the Donbass, is left helpless and reduced to extreme precariousness, weakened by these five years of war.