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Odessa still shelters 120,000 homeless Ukrainians despite Russian attack

Odessa (Ukraine), August 8 (EFE) Property on Russian-occupied territory. Every day, people line up next to Academy Building No. 27 in the city center. A large sign hung above their entrance, assuring them that they would be considered “guests of Odessa,” not “refugees.” “People come here from all over. From Donetsk, Kharkov, Nikolaev, Kherson. They are fleeing the war,” said Ana, a volunteer at the humanitarian assistance center “Casa Hospitalaria”. Stasia told EFE. Every IDP receives an aid package here every fortnight. About 700 people visit the center every day. “The contents of the package cannot be known in advance as we distribute what is received,” a note at the entrance explained. After losing everything, these people, backed only by 2,000 hryvnias (€50, $55) a month, can use anything. “Nothing” They sheltered from the sun under tents, waiting patiently for whatever personal hygiene items, clothes or food they could get their hands on today. When they are called upon to tell their stories, that facade of calm quickly crumbles. “I don’t understand what Russia is trying to save us from,” Anastasia, a displaced Bakhmut, said with tears in her eyes. “We traveled, we made money, we bought an apartment. We had dreams. Now we have nothing.” Anastasia’s family of six has spent their entire lives in Bachmut. They own three apartments there. Now they are all destroyed. Her father and grandmother were bedridden, while her daughter suffered intestinal pain from the stress of the shelling. Four generations had to live together in a one-bedroom apartment in Odessa on the shore of the Black Sea. This is a common situation among most Ukrainian IDPs who simply cannot afford better rent. There are few job offers posted on the wall, but the number of job vacancies is far lower than the number of unemployed. Finding a well-paying job is difficult, even for local residents, Anastasia said. She is a skilled chief accountant. Now, he turns to short-term or side jobs he finds on the Internet. Spend the rest of your time volunteering and helping others in the same situation. Larisa is a woman in her fifties who fled her hometown of Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region. It has been occupied since the first day of the invasion and has gradually become a “ghost town” with few residents left. “The Russians just put their cannons between the houses and fired from there. The walls were shaking,” he recalls. Then the Russians broke into the abandoned houses and took them. “My sister’s house is in shambles now, soldiers live there and steal everything. It’s horrible,” the woman lamented. There is no one to turn to for help. “The collaborators are in power,” Larissa explained. While her son-in-law was fighting near Bachmut, she relieved the stress by volunteering and knitting camouflage netting for soldiers. “Without the support of other volunteers, I would have jumped off the ninth floor,” he said. Her grandson is another source of support. When his father was in the army, the boy would sometimes pick up a toy rifle and sing the Ukrainian national anthem. “It was not the case before the invasion. Now that they attack us, we feel even more strongly that we are Ukrainians,” he explained. For people like Larissa and Anastasia, the idea of ​​some in the media organizing another referendum to decide the fate of the occupied territories is outrageous. “Did Russia do anything good to me? No. On the contrary, it took away everything I had,” Anastasia stressed. His family knew Bahmut as “scorched earth”. But he still hopes to return there one day. “No matter what happens, this is our home.” Rostyslav Averchuk (c) EFE

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