Life on Fronline: Residents in shell-shocked east Ukraine village rely on soldiers for food supplies

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Fighting has dropped to some of the lowest levels in more than a year of war between Ukrainian troops and combined Russian separatists forces. In this sleepy eastern village of Pavlopil, pensioner Halyna Petriivna says she is content since the shelling stopped and says she is finally able to tend to her chickens. Jokingly she calls them her ‘special veterans’.

Halyna, local resident:
“There were 26 chicken before, but after the shelling only these remain. Thankfully we’re also alive after we ran into the cellar.”

Local residents say their village was under the militant control for a few weeks. They took over some of the houses and used them to fire at government troops.

Some 800 people lived here before the conflict - now only a dozen remain. The shelling may have stooped but it doesn’t mean life is back to normal in Pavlopil. The local grocery store is not working, public transport has yet to start running, and it’s rare to meet people on the streets.

Natalya, store clerk:
“We’re giving out free bread, free drinking water and food products brought by the Ukrainian soldiers.”

Ukrainian troops retook the village more than three weeks ago. Many of the remaining residents are pensioners and now depend on soldiers to deliver food to them.

Natalya, store clerk:
“These are all display-only food, they’re all expired. We don’t have anything. We were promised passes to go through the checkpoints and bring food.”

An estimated 800,000 people are currently living in difficult and often dangerous conditions on both sides of the contact line in the Donbas. That's according to the United Nations It also reports that over 630 metric tons of humanitarian aid has been delivered to damaged and destroyed cities in eastern Ukraine.

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