Living On Europe’s Forgotten Frontline

Now, we’ve all found ourselves having a good moan about public services from time to time. Pot holes in the road and long waits to see a doctor, that sort of everyday thing. Well, spare a thought for those Ukrainians living on Europe’s frontline. Into the 8th year of war, their everyday grips and understandable groans are multiplied a hundredfold, with the added concern of having their heads severed by a Russian shell.

Ukrainian military patrol in the village of Katerynivka.

Yesterday Sept 20th, Ukrainian military, representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the humanitarian mission “Proliska” met with residents of the village of Katerynivka. Located in Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast (province), the small village sits literally on the frontline. It currently forms the northern edge of the small, so-called Zolote disengagement area. The name Disengagement Area is a classic misnomer, as firing routinely takes place in the surrounding area, and last night the Ukrainian military reported Russia’s forces mortar fire again landed near Katerynivka.

Seen below during the meeting, residents expressed their concerns about a range of issues. Due to on-going threat of shelling, vehicle access into the village is at times restricted. This leads to problems with the removal of garbage and the movement of the school bus and vital access for ambulances. Locals also want the restoration of the bus stop near the frontline entry-exit checkpoint, and the reconstruction of drinking water wells.

The depopulation of villages and hamlets along the 500km frontline is a real concern. Due to the fighting, employment opportunities dry up and access to food, banks and buses etc. ceases, as village shops and businesses are forced to close. Local schools, post offices, medical centres also shut up shop, this leading to an exodus of those who can afford to leave. More often than not, it’s the elderly and more vulnerable residents who make up the bulk of those remaining in smaller frontline settlements.

Village of Katerynivka.
Close-up of the village. On a slight ridge, it overlooks a disused railway line and the Zolote disengagement area. Occupied Ukraine and Russia’s forces positions are just a couple of kilometres away.

We can but wish the remaining war-torn residents of Katerynivka well.

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