Since 2014, conflict in Ukraine has forced 1.5 million people to flee their homes. For those affected by the violence, winter can make life especially difficult, with temperatures plummeting as low as -20 °C. After five years, many of the displaced have exhausted their resources and are often forced to choose between buying food and medicine or paying for heating.
In 2018, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, stepped up distributions of aid, including clothing, fuel and cash, to thousands of displaced households in eastern Ukraine. Along with partners, it is also reinforcing existing shelters and heated tents at checkpoints along with contact line that divides Government and non-Government controlled areas.
Meet four displaced Ukrainians who will not be left out in the cold this winter, thanks to support from UNHCR and NGO partners.
I have lived in Mykolayivka, Donetsk, for many years now. Winters here are cold and windy. The temperature can get as low as -10C.
Shelling makes things difficult at this time of year. When it starts, the first thing you do is run to the cellar, but it is very cold there. When my house was shelled in 2015, I brought all the warm clothes and blankets I had. Even then, it was cold.
Afterwards, I went to check on my house. Strangely, many things remained unbroken, including the fridge and the television. But the ceiling was missing. The smell was terrible. Many things were burning and I had to move in with a neighbour.
After that winter, I developed problems with my kidneys and my heart.
This year I received emergency shelter materials from UNHCR. I was also given four tons of coal.
I dream of being back in my own house. And to sleep in my bed in a nightie. We have been sleeping in our clothes for so many years. When they start shelling you immediately run to the cellar — there is no time to dress.