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“I just wanted to survive”: testimony from an Irpin survivor | War in Ukraine

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On March 5, he and his grandmother fled in a car driven by a friend. We were driving very fast because there were bombs and snipershe says.

On the road, they discovered the horror: the carcasses of four charred cars. Families who preceded them by a few kilometers were bombarded. Oleksii believes these civilians were targeted by a Russian tank.

They were just people trying, like us, to flee a half-destroyed city. There were bombs. They were afraid and wanted to run awayhe explains with a sigh, visibly marked by what he saw.

But the terror was not over. He vividly remembers the sound of the projectile hitting a wheel of their vehicle a little further down the road. The driver almost lost controlhe recalls.

Frightened, they drove, a flat tire, without stopping for miles, to a safe place.

I only wanted to survive, summarizes the young man. In Oleksii’s mind, there is no doubt: the Russians have committed war crimes. For them, he reserves few words: They should all pay.

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The young man took refuge in Lviv. He now lives in an apartment lent by friends with his father and grandmother.

Even though he is now safe, the bad news keeps coming. A resident of his neighborhood sent him pictures of the family home. She was damaged in a bombardment while they were away.

A damaged house.

Oleksii Mykhalenko’s family home in Irpin was damaged by shelling.

Photo: Oleksii Mykhalenko

The young man has no intention of giving up. He and his father want to return to Irpin to rebuild their home and neighborhood. We want to help people return to live there, he says, looking determined. For him, this project brings hope.

The infrastructures are destroyed, it will take time before returning to live therehe concedes.

He is eager, like so many displaced Ukrainians, to get home.

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