Reference : V-P-UA-E-00535
Date : 14/07/2016
Country/Region : UKRAINE
Caption : Donetsk. The ICRC helps families find relatives. Elena, whose husband Sergey disappeared in winter 2015, with a punching bag in the boxing gym where he used to train.
Photographer : HOFFMAN, Brendan
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : ICRC website article, 05.10.2016: "Ukraine crisis: Uncertainty on both sides of the contact line. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and grandparents of the missing on both sides of the conflict in Ukraine cope as best they can with an impossible, wholly intolerable situation.
Waiting to discover what has happened to their relatives means living in limbo, denied the chance to mourn or a reason to stop hoping against hope. This uncertainty has a severe emotional, social and economic impact on the loved ones of the missing. [...]
Sergey and Elena met in their early twenties. Her brother had her photo saved on his phone. Sergey saw it, and that was enough to induce him to invite Elena out on a date. Two years later, they were married and soon after that, their daughter was born. Elena says that the girl looks just like her father. She is a very active and curious child, just like him.
“Sergey was a sportsman. He played football and boxed. He was crazy about the English Premier League football championship. But he also loved cars and computer games. World of Tanks is still on his computer…,” says Elena. “My husband was a gorgeous and caring man. He did not smoke or drink. He supported me with my dancing, which I have been doing now for six years.”
Elena and Sergey’s mother work together in a DNA laboratory. “She is like a mother to me,” says Elena, who lost her own mother when she was still a child. Elena lives with Sergey’s parents now, every day expecting that he will come back home.
Elena was told that there had been shelling and that Sergey was hit. Because of her work in the DNA laboratory, she was the first to learn about the results of the analysis of the bodies which were found at the site where the shelling had taken place. None of them matched Sergey’s DNA.
Later on, Elena heard that Sergey’s name had been on some lists of detained people. But no-one she spoke to ever confirmed that. She has never been able to find out any other information about her missing husband.
The photograph is part of the ICRC exhibition "Uncertainty".
Original material : digital
Resolution : 5760x3840
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour