War in Ukraine: Between missiles and howitzers, an ancient and hidden stream of water is the salvation of the inhabitants of Donbass

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Nothing comes out of the tube a trickle of water, But for the residents of Lysychansk, a besieged city in eastern Ukraine, this small spring hidden among the trees It is quite a lifesaver in the midst of war.

Artyom Cherukha get agacha y oye the whistling of shells above him, between the mobile Russian and Ukrainian positions, while filling several plastic bottles with water.

A few steps away the tail of a “Hurricane” missilethe size of a man, hangs between the branches, above a green carpeted ravine.


Cherukha, 41, waiting for the raindrops to fall. Photo: AFP

Cherukha, 41, does not seem to pay attention to the conflict surrounding her. She’s there, elbows on her knees, waiting for the drops of water to fall.

“I feel total apathy. I am morally emptynot to mention my physical condition,” he said in a flat voice. “We are sitting here, count the bombs“.

Several industrial towns on the eastern front of Ukraine no longer have access to food and water. In the cellars, the inhabitants (we do not know how many) try to survive in increasingly difficult conditions.

Before the Russian invasion, which began on February 24, Lysychansk, in the Luhansk regionin the heart of the Donbass, was an important center of coal mine, with about 100,000 jobs and several old churches.

The streets of this ghost town they are in ruins and surrounding roads are bombarded so intensely that the humanitarian missions supplying the area had to be interrupted.

In more than two months of war, the Russian forces were advancing in this region of Lugansk, whose governor continues to urge the population to leave the place.

Discouragement. "We sit here counting the bombs".  Photo: AFP

Discouragement. “We’re sitting here counting the bombs.” Photo: AFP

The few vehicles circulating on the roads, at high speed to avoid rocket and mortar fireseem to be intended primarily to help wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

In this situation, the few inhabitants who dare to come out of their shelters do so to take a little sun and fill their bottles. in the small spring.

There is no more water in the city. We come here because it’s the only place” where there are any, explains Andriy Tytyunkov, a 39-year-old welder, in a hesitant voice.

A wounded soldier is evacuated from the Lysychansk region.  Photo: AFP

A wounded soldier is evacuated from the Lysychansk region. Photo: AFP

“But when the shelling is really strong, you have to stay inside,” he adds. “They can drop (bombs) everywhere”.

Several generations of people from the north of Lysychansk came here hidden source over the years: they did it during the Second World War and, more recently, in the 2014 conflict with the Moscow-backed Donbass separatists in 2014. And now again.

The municipal administration ensures that damage to the water supply network they are “irreparable” and that there will be no water in the city until the end of the war.

The few inhabitants who dare to come out of their shelters do so to fill their bottles at the tiny spring.  Photo: AFP

The few inhabitants who dare to come out of their shelters do so to fill their bottles at the tiny spring. Photo: AFP

Meanwhile, this natural source this is your salvationhowever imperfect.

Polluted water and lack of food

Before leaving, the water penetrates the earth, impregnated with chemicals.

The region is one of the most polluted in Eastern Europe. A ravine near the spring is teeming with bubbling toxic waste from one of the town’s many factories.

A Ukrainian tank hides in the bushes of Lysychansk.  Photo: AFP

A Ukrainian tank hides in the bushes of Lysychansk. Photo: AFP

“You have to boil the water”explains Volodymyr Ivanov. “It looks pretty clean, but no one has looked at it directly,” the ex-marine says, staring at his bottle in the sun. “Who knows what’s really inside her?”

To the lack of water is added the food shortage.

“We have practically nothing left,” says Artyom Cherukha, adding that the latest deliveries of humanitarian aid They go back to the beginning of last week.

“Even if I decide (…) to feed my children only once a day, we will only have three days,” the man said, father of seven children. “How do you tell your kids there’s nothing to eat?”

AFP

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