Now it will not come as any great revelation to learn that during any war, it’s the civilian population who suffer most. This historical reality is no different in eastern Ukraine. With an active front line covering some 457km, everyday, on both sides, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are effected by the fighting.
In the many frontline villages, the elderly are especially vulnerable. Less able to move home away from the conflict, the difficulty of gaining access to everyday needs, such as food and assistance with household repairs, is a daily challenge. A challenge made all the worse, by many of the younger residents having left the area due to the fighting. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report, that 30% of the 4.4 million people in need of support, are over 60.
Then we have the wars hidden human cost. We see the soldiers, the weapons and the daily death and destruction, but we don’t see the effect on peoples mental health. This unseen suffering knows no barriers and effects both soldiers and civilians alike. With this senseless, bloody conflict having dragged on for 4 years, millions of Ukrainians mental well-being, has been effected by it.
In Ukraine, the Red Cross do sterling work. On the frontline, their staff hold regular mental health sessions, supporting people and helping them cope with stress.
Perfectly illustrating the trauma caused by the fighting, on Jan 21st 2017, the Red Cross tweeted about a session in the front line town of Avdiivka. Svitlana (above pic: back row -second from right) said “We have run out of words to calm down our kids when another shelling starts.” Red Cross in Ukraine website.
Every day, much of it happening at night, Russian led forces fire on Avdiivka and Ukrainian positions protecting it. Hoping to target those doing the firing, Ukrainian forces will sometimes return fire. And so it goes on…