Bombing fears tear families apart in Ukrainian city of Sloviansk
As soon as they said goodbye, Svitlana, already on the bus leaving Sloviansk, a city bombed by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, and her husband Vitaly, who stayed outside, picked up their phones to talk for a few more minutes.
After Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, now under Russian control, Sloviansk is the next target of the Moscow army. Therefore, local authorities called for the evacuation of civilians.
“I send my wife and I have no choice, I join the army tomorrow,” says Vitaly.
This 30-year-old man explains to AFP journalists that he will quit his job as a plumber in the city’s municipal services, where more than 100,000 people lived before the war.
The convoy, organized by local authorities and gathered in front of a Protestant church, leaves with around 150 women and children on board.
Svitlana, 43, who worked as a saleswoman in a store until the bombings the previous day, and her daughter from her first marriage, six months pregnant, left on Wednesday for Dnipro (center) and for an uncertain destination.
They join the millions of Ukrainians displaced since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24th.
Vitaly wants to be more optimistic. “They had to go, after what happened yesterday (Tuesday), (the attacks) reached the center of the city”, he explains, convinced that Sloviansk will not fall into the hands of the Russians and that one day he will be able to live there again. with your family.
Leave dangerous places
But for now, evacuations are a priority and the number of people who decide to leave continues to grow.
“Every day, we take out 100 or even 150 people,” says Sergii Naumenko, 28, a Protestant church volunteer who coordinates the operation.
“We want to help people leave dangerous places. It’s getting harder and harder because Sloviansk and other cities are being bombed. People need it,” she explains.
On Tuesday, Russian missiles hit the market in central Sloviansk and the surrounding streets. At least two civilians died.
For Ruslan, a shopkeeper whose shop was set on fire in the attack, Russian forces are carrying out a “genocide” to spread terror and “scare people into fleeing” Sloviansk.
Those who decide to stay in the city are shocked and denounce an absurd war, which kills innocent people for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Galyna Vasylivna, 72, mourns the death of another elderly woman in Tuesday’s bombing.
“She had two daughters and two grandchildren. Why did she have to go through there? She worked elsewhere but stopped. Had she forgotten something? Maybe she was still alive now.”