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Reference : V-P-UA-E-00939
Date : 06/12/2019
Country/Region : UKRAINE
Caption : Donetsk Region, Vodiane village. Portrait of a resident in his damaged house.
Photographer : NOSENKO, Yevgen
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : ICRC story map, 19.12.2019.

Vodiane: Caught between fierce winter and cold conflict
Every year, thousands of Donbas residents fear winter – they suffer without means to heat their homes, while the cold weather hurts them, sometimes, as much as the conflict does.
Only nine people live in Vodiane now. Despite being only 10 km away from the relatively peaceful Mariupol, people are practically locked in their village. There is no way to get in or out because it is too dangerous for transporters to organize a bus service as Vodiane lies very near the contact line.
Before the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) began distributing briquets among the residents of Vodiane, the locals had to collect firewood from the nearby forests, strewn with unexploded ordnance and mines. This year, all residents of Vodiane received 28 tons of briquets. In fact, 6,600 families living along the contact line benefitted from the coal and briquets that the ICRC distributed.
Sergey says he has learnt over the past five years that it’s important to live in the moment and not to make long-term plans, for you never know what tomorrow might bring. “During evenings, when there is electricity I listen to the radio or read books. But when there is none, I just sit closer to the fire and think about the work I will do when spring comes,” he smiles.
Sergey’s appreciation of life also comes from a narrow escape he had in 2017 when a grenade landed a few metres from the window of his bedroom. “I survived because I had just gone to the kitchen to check the temperature in the furnace. I only suffered a contusion, but the house was badly damaged. The roof was destroyed by shrapnel and the bedroom wall was literally pressed into the house. Thanks to the building material I received from the ICRC, I managed to rebuild the wall and next year I plan to repair the roof.”
Sergey tries to be optimistic, but he can’t hide the sadness in his voice. “Before the conflict began, about 300 families used to live here. But now, only nine people remain. Many houses were razed to the ground, gardens were destroyed and a beautiful lake that was full of fish went dry. I had dreams of enjoying my retirement and old age here, but all that remains now is a pitiful reminder of what once was.”
In preparation for winter, the ICRC provided 1,200 families living on the both sides of the contact line with new doors and modern windows. Apart from this, 1,580 families received cash assistance or winterization kits that allowed them to insulate their houses before the winter sets in.
Resolution : 5797x3870
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour