“She ran to me and screamed ‘that didn’t happen, houses don’t burn!
My dresses are there, my toys!” Child upon learning her home had been destroyed.
The village of Shyrokyne is located in the Donetsk Oblast (province), some 12km east of the city of Mariupol. Sitting on Ukraine’s southern shoreline, the Sea of Azov laps at its edge. Before the conflict, the population numbered around 2,000, with 100 children attending the local school.
September 4th 2014 changed everything.
With Russian led forces advancing from the border and needing to capture Mariupol, the first Russian shells hit the village.
Below picture: Shyrokyne Jan 21st 2018: Seen from Ukrainian positions. During winter, the Sea of Azov shoreline (on the right), routinely freezes over.
Shyrokyne had suddenly become the front line and the price it paid was heavy indeed. On February 15th 2015, street fighting began in the village. A resident Valentyna Logozynska’s recounts how on February 14th her husband was killed before her eyes. An armoured personnel carrier suddenly appeared in the window right across from the house. “And in that second I was thrown back, the fire was so…ukh! The top of his head was instantly taken off.”
Outskirts of Shyrokyne: Destroyed Russian armoured personnel carrier.
With unceasingly heavy fighting, an urgent, mass evacuation of the village took place. Residents then living in their basements, only had time to quickly gather up their documents and fill a few bags. They hoped to return to their once “blooming and prosperous village,” but talk of peace was a false hope. Each and everyone of them lost everything.
Today, apart from the soldiers from both sides who patrol it, the village lies empty. Virtually every building has been damaged, with many totally destroyed. The senseless tit-for-tat shelling and fighting continues and now having a free hand, nature does its best to envelope the destruction under a green blanket.
To gain a fuller understanding of the shocking trauma and uncertain future inflicted on residents, it’s well worth reading this article – The Invisible People Of Shyrokyne, by Hromadske International. The quotes I used here, are taken from this article.