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Hell of Avdiivka: Who stayed and who left the city?

Author : Borys Ivanov and Yevhen Golovin

23:48, 6 February 2017
Hell of Avdiivka: Who stayed and who left the city?

Author : Borys Ivanov and Yevhen Golovin

Ukraine again recalled what an active war looks like. This word came back into circulation along with the word Avdiivka.

23:48, 6 February 2017

Read the original article at radiosvoboda.org

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Just in the early days of sudden aggravation the war claimed the lives of nine Ukrainian soldiers. 20 thousand citizens appeared on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. In 30-degree frost people can only get warm with fire from artillery shells.

Molodizhna Street in Avdiivka is crowded - parents escort their children. Kids will be transferred to a safe place - Svyatogirsk resort. On the eve of this event representatives of education department called parents by phone and everyone could sign up. In the morning authorities formed a list of 180 children.

"It’s a little scary to live here. Militants often shoot and it’s cold," says schoolgirl Vika Dubets awaiting the departure of the bus.

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Parents hope that there, in the peaceful area, children would be able to continue their studies.

Those who did not get to the first wave of evacuation are waiting in one of the warm places with heating. They say, they are ready to wait to just leave later. "I don’t want to tremble because of these firings," says local resident.

Avdiivka Hospital. Evacuation

Shootings shake Avdiivka, starting from January 29. Its residents can’t recall such confrontations since hot 2014 year. Losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are growing every day. Instead, we don’t have accurate data from the other side. Ukrainian military said, they destroyed tens of militants.

Militants use all the weapons they have. It does not matter where the projectile will fall.

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"This morning separatists used Grad. Four projectile got in my position and Avdiivka settlements", said the deputy commander of 72 Brigade, Armed Forces Oleksandr Samarskyi.

In the morning Avdiivka heard explosions from Grads instead of a school bell. Funnels could be seen on the whole perimeter of the hospital. After the first attacks severe patients, wounded, and women in travail were evacuated.

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"Yesterday last woman with a child was discharged from the hospital, the day before we had three childbirths three," says the Acting Head of Avdiivka Hospital medical unit Victoria Nikulova.

Now it’s the time for evacuation of people with heart diseases and bedridden patients - on the shoulders of medical volunteers. Though the doctors are military, but much of their work is with civilians. The biggest help need the old people.

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Victoria Nikulova says, it’s difficult to work primarily because of problems with heating and water. "No heating. And who knows will it be or not. The water sometimes is supplied, sometimes not, " says the doctor.

In one of the hospital chambers for 12 days is lying Victor Tolstoy, hospitalized with the stroke. He has no place to go so he refused of the evacuation.

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"You are lying and all the time hear sounds of shooting.  And worrying – what’s the situation at home? Maybe the projectile fell on my house somehow?”, said the man.

Without light, heat and water

In the morning when gunmen fired Avdiivka with about a hundred shells from Grad, some projectiles fell on the 9th quarter in the town.

"I was thinking, well, this is the end. We jumped out of the house, let's quickly dress! I have two sons and a daughter - all are in the basement ", says Galina, the resident of Avdiivka.

Civilians are concerned with the question why. However, instead of answers - only darkness and cold...

Dark windows in Avdiivka - this is not the blackout, it’s the absence of electricity. In apartment building, adjacent to the Old Avdiivka still live a few people. The area is located near the well-known "industrial zone". Hostilities take place there every night.

In the morning old Avdiivka again collects a sinister harvest of shells fragments. Local residents find them just in their own backyards. On February 2 in the area the woman died – she couldn’t hide from the shelling.

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Generally during the attack you can’t enter to the Old Avdiivka. So in the morning volunteer troops with bread and candles come here - literally "a ray of light in the kingdom of darkness."

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A few days without electricity, heat and water – that’s what the life of the inhabitants of Avdiivka looks like after another military aggravation. When the attacks calm down – it’s the time for repair crews to work.

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A little heat to Avdiivka supplies the coke plant. After the shelling plant cut its production by two thirds. Now, it has barely enough coke gas just for its own use and maintaining the city.

"If we stop, the city would be doomed. People will be forced to leave, " said the director of Avdiivka coke plant Musa Magomedov.

But residents do not want to leave Avdiivka. Even in the time of shelling. Even those with children.

"I have been in that sanatorium earlier. There is no heating. After all, we should pay for that. And why we should pay? It seemed free. But only at first, and then they say there’s no more coal, " says local resident Svitlana Trukhmanova.

112 Agency

The city is like under siege

With each passing day Avdiivka increasingly resembles a city under siege. Queues for humanitarian aid are growing. Although not all who come are in need. And not all those who are in need – came here.

"Well, I am not in need, I have hands and legs. My husband and son – they have a job. I don’t eat the last piece of bread. There are people who need this help much more. It’ll be better to organize some help directly to the homes of old people, children, maybe organizers should make some lists ", says a resident of the city.

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During the three years Avdiivka became accustomed to shelling. Although this time it’s again very scary, say locals. However, a few hours of silence - and it seems there’s no war. Streets once again are full of people.

On the day of shelling OSCE mission came to the city. There were a lot of cars and reputable experts. They recognized: there are shootings from both sides. But assured: the locals are not forgotten and OSCE will come again to Avdiivka in the future.

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The next day, gunmen bombarded the Avdiivka road. The one that was used in evacuation process in the morning.

Related: OSCE recorded around 1300 ceasefire violations in 24 hours, - Hug

Related: 40 attacks reported in ATO zone over past day

Related: Five villages near Avdiivka remain without electricity, - Emergency Service

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