A photo-story by Tatiana Stoliarenko
Artiomovsk (currently Bakhmut) is a city in the government-controlled area of Donetsk region, located 17 km from the contact line. Many of those who fled the conflict live here in need of humanitarian assistance.
These four mothers have been through difficult times after fleeing their areas and abandoning their homes in search of safety, primarily for their children.
Two years into the conflict, these families find themselves living in difficult conditions with little money, no home to go back to and struggling to help their children survive all this.
Lubov Ageeva, 64, lived in a town called Peski in Donetsk.
Her elderly mother died during the conflict and she now lives with her 38-year-old disabled daughter who is also anaemic and needs a specific diet.
“I now live in complete poverty after having had comfortable life in Peski all my life. I had an apartment that I had just renovated before the conflict broke out, it is now completely ruined. Now I have to look through the garbage to find a floor rug.”
“See where I have to live now! Look at where my daughter and I sleep!”
“Even the clothes I am wearing are not mine; the only thing I own is my underwear. I am tired of the feeling of embarrassment every time I ask for help.”
Aziza, 30, fled Uhlehorsk with her family while pregnant with her youngest daughter Natalia, who is now a year and a half.
She lives with her husband, Natalia and her other daughter Sasha, 3, in an old building in the suburbs of Krasnoarmiysk City. Aziza’s husband is constantly searching for various small jobs.
“I was on my last trimester with my youngest daughter, Natalia, when the war came closer to where we lived and we had to leave. My daughter was born as an IDP. We thank god that we have what we have.”
“We pray for peace. Now we live in a house which doesn't actually exist on the map.”
“The hardest thing to get for my babies is dairy products; I can only afford them because of the WFP voucher. My husband used to work at a factory but now he only gets occasional jobs.”
Vera and her two children fled Pervomaisk a year and a half ago – her mother preferred to stay behind. She did not manage to take any of her personal belongings with her.
Vera has been living in an IDP centre in Artiomovsk since.
“I know that my garage and parts of the house were destroyed after I left, but my mother is still alive. I will return to our city as soon as the conflict is over.”
“I have no idea how I can raise my children in these conditions.”
“It is a challenge for me to even give them with enough food for school every day. I live on social allowance and assistance from humanitarian organizations. I cannot apply for a job because I cannot work fulltime. I wish I could work from home.”
Svetlana, 44, had to move twice to flee the conflict. She has recently moved from Makiivka to Artiomovsk, with her six children aged 11 to 17.
“This is the third time we move. I went to Makiivka after our apartment in Horlivka in Donetsk was destroyed by shelling. It has not been easy for us since the conflict broke out.”
“I lost my baby two months ago because I had no milk to breastfeed due to stress and did not even have money to buy baby milk.”
“I also had six other children to feed. “I was found by the military and brought to Artiomovsk and we received food from WFP when we were really needed help.” “One of my twin boys stopped speaking after shrapnel damaged his finger. Conflict children have to survive through a very stressful environment.”
In Ukraine, WFP is providing vouchers and food assistance to over 267,000 beneficiaries.