标签档案: 哈尔科夫

Living underground: How life continued in metro stations as bombs fell on Kharkiv

Living underground: How life continued in metro stations as bombs fell on Kharkiv
In Saltivka, one of Kharkiv’s poorest and most heavily bombarded districts, hundreds of civilians have sought refuge in metro stations. The subterranean dwellers tell Kim Sengupta how they have created a sense of community with a medical clinic, lessons for children, and even a makeshift nail parlour

here are two Saltivkas, one above ground, an area with row after row of broken buildings and charred cars on roads cratered by bombs, solitary figures hurrying along, and frightened faces peering out of windows amid sounds of explosions.

There is another Saltivka, with hundreds of people who used to live there transplanted underground, huddled together in metro stations, anxious about whether the homes they left behind have survived the daily barrages of missile strikes and artillery rounds.

Saltivka is the most bombed district in one of the most bombed places in the war, 哈尔科夫.

<p>File photo: A police car is seen under the rubble in the eastern Ukraine city of Kharkiv, 2 2022 年 4 月&磷t;/p>

File photo: A police car is seen under the rubble in the eastern Ukraine city of Kharkiv, 2 四月 2022

乌克兰’s second city has yet to experience the withdrawal of Russian forces as has happened around the capital, 自入侵以来,泽连斯基首次在基辅的办公室分享了一段视频. Here the onslaught has continued as the Kremlin attempts to block off the Donbas to the east of here.

Ukrainian troops have made hard-fought gains in the villages and towns around the city, but Vladimir Putin’s forces remain within range to carry out salvoes of lethal strikes, often indiscriminately, into residential areas, taking a rising toll of lives.

Residents in some parts of Saltivka are the among the most economically deprived in the city, unemployed, or without regular work. Many of them do not have the identification documents necessary to receive government emergency support, let alone passports to get out of the country to escape the war.

Oleksandr Pavluyk had been going through abandoned homes in a run-down estate to try and find left behind food for his elderly mother and himself. He showed what he had managed to find after an hour-and-a-half of foragingtwo loaves of stale crumbling bread, two onions, four potatoes, three mouldy apples, and a can of salmon.

“Most people who live here did not have a lot anyway, so I wasn’t expecting much” he told 独立. “We haven’t had electricity for days, so food in the fridges had rotted. But the salmon is good, my mother would like that, it would be a luxury. It would be nice to give her something good at a time like this. I’ve stayed out here because of here, she does not want to leave, but life is hard for her, for us.”

<p>File photo: A heavily damaged apartment building is seen at a front line discrict of Kharkiv, 27 March 2022</磷>

File photo: A heavily damaged apartment building is seen at a front line discrict of Kharkiv, 27 行进 2022

Mr Pavluyk said he had urged his 73-year-old mother Yulia that they should go to somewhere safer, stressing that it was far too dangerous to stay on, but failed to change her mind.

There were sounds of blasts as the 42-year-old building worker, who had not worked for five months even before the war started, described their desperate predicament.

“Maybe they are trying to hit a [乌克兰] army post which was there. That moved a while ago, but they still keep bombing this area. We have also had these buildings hit directly and these are just peoples’ homes”, 他说, pointing at blasted walls, balconies sheared off and shattered windows.

“This happens a lot, I don’t know why, most people have gone away, there aren’t many left to kill here.”

Kharkiv is only 25 miles from 俄罗斯 and this stretch of Saltivka is one of the closest point to the border. “It is not far for them to bomb”, said Denis Zhuravlov, standing outside another apartment block. “We have not seen any real reduction of the attacks since these peace talks started. They stop for a few hours and then start again.”

<p>This map shows the extent of Russian invasion of Ukraine</磷>

This map shows the extent of Russian invasion of Ukraine

Mr Zhuravlov wanted to show “new types” of bombs being used by the Russians.

“They burst in the air, and then float down and burst again at low level”, he said pointing towards pieces of orange cloth hanging from branches. “They have been using all kinds of weapons here. People are frightened to be out, that is why they went from here. Our neighbours went to stay at the train stations, a lot of people have from here.”

The move to seek shelter at the metro stations began on the day of the invasion on 24 二月. Hostilities began in Kharkiv with sustained missile attacks. Oksana Kovaleva’s apartment block was hit within 45 minutes of the first attack. She grabbed her four-year-old daughter Iryna and son, Yuri, threw on coats and rushed out of the building.

Another family was fleeing in their car and stopped to take Ms Kovaleva and her children to one of the nearest metro stations, where the vehicle was abandoned and they all rushed underground.

<p>File photo: Residents shelter in a subway station in Kharkiv, 28 March 2022</磷>

File photo: Residents shelter in a subway station in Kharkiv, 28 行进 2022

“Soon there were more and more people coming in. Everyone was terrified, the explosions were so loud that we could even here them underground”, 她说. “I was not thinking about our apartment at the time. We were just very grateful that we were alive, my kids were alright. It was relief more than anything else.”

Ms Kovaleva’s husband, Anton, had joined a volunteer battalion of the Ukrainian forces which had deployed to the frontline east of the city. “I knew he’d be very worried about us, I tried calling him many times that night. I got through to his brother the next day and he passed on the message that we were safe” she recalled.

After three days, Ms Kovaleva and her neighbour went back to their homes to collect essential items and two sets of pets: a dog and two cats. They returned to the Heroiv Pratsi metro station where they have been living ever since, sleeping in tents on the platform, seldom venturing out.

Over time, a degree of structure has been established in the subterranean community. A medical clinic has been set up, food is provided by welfare groups and religious organisations, there are online lessons for children, even a makeshift nail parlour. The tracks, with trains no longer running, are used to walk from station to station by those seeking places to stay.

<p>File photo: People rest as they take shelter in a subway station in Kharkiv, 28 March 2022</磷>

File photo: People rest as they take shelter in a subway station in Kharkiv, 28 行进 2022

Danger, 然而, is never far away in Kharkiv. A supermarket near Heroiv Pratsi was struck by a missile recently, injuring eight people and killing three others who were queueing for food, one of them a woman from the station.

Anastasia Kharkova, an activist staying at the station, described the attempts to introduce a a semblance of normality to the community with such proximity to violence.

“It was decided early on that this war could go on for a very long time and all efforts must be made to make life work down here. A lot of people volunteered, people came out of retirement to help. The authorities did the best they could I think”, 她说. “There has also been a lot of help from the churches and people of different faiths, we are all very grateful for that.”

<p>File photo: A man shelters in a subway station in Kharkiv, 28 March 2022</磷>

File photo: A man shelters in a subway station in Kharkiv, 28 行进 2022

A group from a Hare Krishna temple came with soup, bread and sweets to provide lunch. It had been the turn of a Baptist church the previous day. “We are all working together doing what we can” said one of the Hare Krishna followers. “We don’t discuss religion ; we are just helping each other out” as his companions chanted with cymbals and drums.

Lubov Mimilova, a social worker, has been setting up playgroups for families in the stations. There are drawings by children on the walls, games and parties organised. “What is happening is obviously having a deep impact on these boys and girls,“ 她说. “Letting them express their feeling is important, but it is also very important to let them hold on to their childhood as much as possible under the circumstances.”

There was a queue at platform 2 for Viktoria Gondarova, a beautician offering nail polishing. “Everyone wants to help. This is what I do in my working life, and so I thought why not offer this service? This will be something which will remind women of their life before the war, cheer them up a bit” she said. “ Everyone needs cheering up at a time like this.”

<p>Viktoria Gondarova polishes nails underground in Kharkiv </磷>

Viktoria Gondarova polishes nails underground in Kharkiv

There are mental as well as physical issues to deal with for Elena Doro, a doctor at one of the city’s hospital, who has set up a part-time surgery in what used to be the ticket office.

“We have had the usual illness at this station, coughs and colds, a few accidents with people falling, especially when they have been trying to get to the shelter in a rush because of the bombing” she said. “There have also been two cases of Covid, it became pretty obvious that they had it when they arrived and they were sent for treatment.

“But there are also psychological issues of course as one would expect from people being in this situation. One thing we have noticed is that some people have become afraid of open spaces, not being near others in an enclosed area. This is something which will need to be addressed when things get better.”

<p>Elena Doro has set up a makeshift clinic in a Kharkiv metro station </磷>

Elena Doro has set up a makeshift clinic in a Kharkiv metro station

There are those on the platforms of Heroiv Pratsi who are convinced that things will start getting better.

“We are turning back the enemy, Kharkiv hasn’t been captured. Vladimir Putin has failed to conquer our country” Nicolai Shevchenko said. “Staying down here has been distressing for us, but we have survived and we’ll be strong when we get out.

“Ukraine has suffered a lot of losses, a lot pain, but our country is united, we will be stronger after what has happened, we have no doubt about that.”