Tags / DNR
On the 5th of April 2014, we visited a drone camp of the Ukrainian army, situated around 2 kilometres from the front line in Pisky. To spot the enemy (pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass), this special unit counts on drones built by volunteers in a secret base in Dnipropetrovsk. This is the first time that the Ukrainian army accepts that a civillian films their drone operations. Even still, access to sensitive areas of their operations was denied for matters of security. Without the drone, it would be almost impossible for the UKR to pinpoint enemy positions. A serious lack of resources has the Ukrainian army relying on volunteers to operate and maintain this technology, including supplying spare parts and repairing the units.
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On April 6 2015, we visited Krasnogorovka with the help of Pastor Vladimir Ivanov, director of the NGO Good News Church. We saw the evident beginning of a serious humanitarian crisis. Since the conflict in Ukraine has destroyed vital infrastructure, many residents now live in unhealthy conditions, surround by mountains of rubbish, with a deficient water system, no windows or electricity.
Krasnogorovka is a small suburb of the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, still controlled by the Ukrainian army. When the city is calm, the population living on the limits of town must remain aware of the presence of snipers only 800 meters away in the separatist zone. Pastor Ivanov goes to Krasnogorovka to bring food, clothes, and a little candy for the kids living in a city that has been left to itself. We saw elderly people starving from having not eat for several days. I even spoke to a mother of three children who has absolutely no income beside the humanitarian aids that the Pastor and other donors are bringing to the town. The photos of this reportage show the living conditions of a population who have already suffered from a war whose end is difficult to predict, and continue to suffer its consequences.
A woman from the community is making a petition to be sent to the president explaining the situation and that something must be done now.
The elderly are among the most at-risk and feel desperate about situation in Krasnogorovka.
Another consequence of the war. People look into rubbish bins for basic wares like toys for kids, lamps, etc...
it is extremely hard to find a building in good condition in Krasnogorovka. Most of them are in terrible condition like this one, damaged in fighting.
A crater from a mortar shell is a reminder of the recent fighting in Krasnogorovka.
It is still cold in the city, and many buildings no longer have windows to help keep in the heat.
Rubbish strewn about the streets leaves an awful odor in the air, and poses the risk of spreading disease if nothing is done before the arrival of summer.
A man still live in his nearly-demolished building.
As the city dump is an open field, the wind constantly carries plastic bags into tree branches. The area could face an environmental catastrophe in a near future.
The city dump in Krasnogorovka is all but abandoned, with only small amount of employees coming occasionally to burn rubbish.
Workers from the city dump refuse to be interviewed.
As we were heading for Krasnogorovka by the main road, we had a bad surpise. The day before, pro-Russian separatists dynamited the bridge in an attempt to isolate the city from the Ukrainian army.
A young volunteer at the local protestant church (left) makes free tea for the population. It is still very cold in the morning in Krasnogorovka.
Pastor Ivanov distributes cookies and chocolate to children coming for his visit.
The Kovcheg Protestant church remains unfinished, and now serves as a shelter for the population of Krosnogorovka.
Pastor Vladimir Priadka of the Kovcheg Protestant church (left) poses in Krasnogorovka with pastor Ivanov.
Clothes that pastor Ivanov and others brought, are stocked in one room of the church and are distributed to the local population.
Volunteers help to prepare the hundreds of meals that they are going to serve that day.
Several old woman were present at the shelter, alone and often silently crying.
Up to 40 people at a time can sit around the table inside the church.
Children enjoy what are probably their only real meals for a while, until another generous donor comes with more food.
The community center of Krasnogorovka also serve as a shelter.
Serenka, 72, lives in anguish, hoping for help. Like most elderly people in the region, she doesn't receive a pension. She relies only on humanitarian aid for food and clothes.
The elderly were quick to explain their complaints and fears. many of them have lived on one meal per day for weeks now.
On the walk to the drone field, the commander told us to not step outside his footprints in case of land mines.
On our way to the drone field, the commander thought he saw the fuse of a land mine, but luckily for us, it was not.
The commander finishes assembling the drone.
Drone teams rely on a multitude of spare parts from used equipment, as the Ukrainian army doesn't supply them with any new parts to repair the drone.
The commander helps the drone take off by throwing it in the air.
The commander watches his drone as it flies over the separatist area.
The drone flies its reconnaissance mission to locate the position of pro-Russian militants.
A soldier watches as the drone arrives back from its mission over the enemy position and prepares to land.
The commander comes back to camp with the drone after a very successful flight over enemy positions.
Normal life at the drone team's camp revolves around maintenance of the drones, and waiting for flight orders.
We heard severe shelling at the drone camp. A soldier with his radio stares from his post towards the front line, listening for orders to evacuate or to go into the fight.
The story of the Black Tulips has almost unknown outside Ukraine. This group of volunteers search the battlefields around Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, to find and bury the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers killed in battle. Since the territory is under control of separatists, Kiev's forces cannot access the area, and the sad and hard job is left to a small group of men, under the severe control of militiamen.
Bus no. 6 runs everyday from Donetsk train station and the suburbs of Pesky. The area is dotted with shrapnel holes, a bust stop has been hit a few days ago and many buildings are destroyed. Its driver, Aleksander, risks his life to bring people back home. He tells of how he is scared of this job, and how absurd is to keep on riding a bus under the bombs. Bus no. 6 was hit by shrapnel splinters a few days after this report. Two people died and Aleksander was wounded.
Buses are often caught in the crossfire, struck by stray artillery or rockets, causing civilian casualties. After the ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists was breached in September, 2014, fighting has continued to escalate. The latest escalation in fighting in Donetsk left several dead when their bus was hit by a shell.
According to Kiev, over 5,000 have died so far in the conflict.
Despite the declared ceasefire signed by both sides of the conflict in Minsk on Sept. 5, 2014, Russian-sponsored militants continued to shell residential areas and other civilian buildings in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine. In addition to rocket and artillery fire aimed at Ukrainian Armed Forces units, residential areas, buildings and strategic objects such as airport, railway station, chemical plant also being hit.
Russia’s Armed Forces are using militants from DNR and LNR, terrorist organizations disguising themselves as local militia, to carry out various provocations such shelling as civilian areas while supplying these militants with the latest in Russian military hardware.
Local civilians in eastern Ukraine trying to survive the rocket and artillery fire have no way of really knowing which side is shelling them, so they often express opinions that completely contradict each other.