Evacuees forced to return to Ukraine – OlxPraca

POKROSK, Ukraine — The impact of the missile slammed the young woman into a fence so hard that she exploded. His mother found him dead on the bench under the pear tree where she had enjoyed the afternoon. When her father arrived, she was gone.

Anna Protsenko was murdered two days after returning home. The 35-year-old did what the authorities wanted: She evacuated the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine as Russian forces approached. But starting a new life elsewhere was uncomfortable and expensive.

Like Protsenko, tens of thousands of people have returned to rural or industrial communities near the region’s front lines at considerable risk because they cannot afford to live in safer places.

Protsenko tried it for two months, then came home to take a job in the small town of Pokrosk. On Monday, friends and family kissed her face and wept before her casket was closed by her grave.

“We can’t win. They don’t put us anywhere else and you still have to pay rent,” said Anastasia Rusanova, a friend and neighbor. There is nowhere to go, but here in the Donetsk region, “everything is ours,” he said.

The mayor’s office in Pokrosk estimates that 70 percent of the evacuees have returned home. In the large city of Kramatosk, an hour’s drive from the front line, officials said the population had dropped from a normal 220,000 to about 50,000 in the weeks following the Russian invasion, but has since risen to 68,000.

This is frustrating for Ukrainian officials as some civilians are on the warpath, but residents of the Donetsk region are also frustrated. Some described a feeling of unwelcomeness among Ukrainian speakers in some parts of the country as Russian speakers.

But often, lack of money was the problem. In Kramatorsk, some people queuing for humanitarian aid boxes said they were too poor to empty at all. The Donetsk region and its economy have been mired in conflict since 2014, when Russian-backed separatists began fighting the Ukrainian government.

“Who will take care of us?” asked Karina Smilska, who returned to Pokrosk a month after the evacuation. Now, at 18, she is her family’s top earner as a waitress.

Volunteers have been driving vehicles into the Donetsk region for months since the Russian invasion, helping to evacuate vulnerable people, but such efforts may be quietly doomed to failure.