“Only eight kilometers further down this road there are Ukrainian positions,” he said.

The city, with a pre-war population of only 7,000 people, is between Horlivka and Debaltseve. While all three municipalities are under Russian-separatist control, they are not secure.

In Vuhlehirsk, residents, city officials and Red Cross volunteers are trying to fix the war’s considerable damage.

The city is only five kilometers from Debaltseve, where Ukrainian forces suffered a terrible retreat in February. Vuhlehirsk became a staging ground for Russian-separatist forces to attack Debaltseve. It has since become a hideout for separatists, who simply seized apartment complexes for their own use.

No building has been left untouched by the fighting.


Many buildings suffer still show heavy damage from the war fought in Vuhlehirsk.


According to Vladimorivich, most of the pre-war population has returned, but that doesn’t appear likely, based on he nearly deserted streets. He said some may have gone to separatist-held Yenakieve, some 15 kilometers away.

“Most of Vuhlehirsk’s residents don’t support Ukraine. Look at the destruction in the town and see yourself what those Ukrainian bastards did!’ the city administrator shouted.

Anya, 41, is reluctant to talk about her situation. Her house is destroyed. She’s making soup In the rubble of her small cottage that even lacks a roof. “This is how I live. Don’t take pictures because I’m not an animal in a zoo. I’m a human!” Anya yelled. She didn’t give her last name because she trusts no one.

Debris is scattered everywhere and residents are paid small amounts of money by the city to collect and move it.

“There are no jobs and therefore no money. This is also a way to attract more people to return to Vuhlehirsk, and together we can rebuild the city,” he said.

International Red Cross volunteers offload two large trucks. But it’s not enough. “This is the third time we’re distributing supplies,” said Valerie Aubergier from the Red Cross.


Some 20 men are dragging heavy wooden beams. It’s nearly 35 degrees Celsius outside, and most men walk bare chested at the old bus station. Drinking water is necessary. However, the Red Cross doesn’t seem to provide the men with clean water. One young guy – like some others – has signs of wounds on his back. “It was shrapnel that hit me, but I’m tough,” he laughed. I’m not working for the Red Cross, but as a volunteer for the city administration. They don’t give me water. I need to buy a bottle myself.”


Volunteers unload building supplies in Vuhlehirsk, a city in Donetsk Oblast where lots of fighting took place.

The Red Cross distribution list includes 107 houses in Vuhlehirsk. Much more needs to be donated. “We have received supplies from the Czech Republic, Russia, and maybe even Ukraine, but that I cannot confirm,” Vladimorivich told the Kyiv Post.

Aubergier said: “It gets sent here by NGOs and brought by locals. We are here to oversee that the supplies are coming into the right hands.”

The only hospital in the town is closed and pharmacies are not working.


“Patients have been transferred to the hospital in Yenakieve,” he said. “We can use all humanitarian aid as you can see.”

He’s right. The most essential needs for the people remain scarce and far away. “Water is not available everywhere, though a few shops have reopened, but that’s water that will cost money and many don’t have a penny to live on.”

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