Bakhmout with White Angels, to exfiltrate Ukrainian civilians far from front

In Ukraine, the police unit of the Donetsk province will seek residents trapped in the fighting.

by Rémy Ourdan (Bakhmout (Donbass, Ukraine), sent special)

Every day for weeks, Pavlo and his two comrades return to Bakhmout. Without worrying about the intensity of the fights or the Russian bombings on this portion of the Donbass Front, in Ukraine, they will seek those of the last residents who wish to leave the city. Each time, the foray is perilous.

Pavlo is one of the White Angels (“White Angels”), a police unit of the Donetsk province which is dedicated to the extraction of civilians from towns and villages closest to the front. That day, his mission is to find Aryna, 7 years old. The city police commander, Oleksandr Kolomiyetz, estimates that there are 5,000 to 6,000 people in the bruised city, including around 200 children, out of a population of 70,000 people before the Russian invasion.

Pavlo says that, the day before, he conveyed from Bakhmout to the Sloviansk Hospital, a woman, Galina Donilehenko, eight -month pregnant, who was trapped in the fighting. It is now safe, if it exists in these cities of the Donbass regularly targeted by Russian missiles. Galina begged Pavlo to return to Bakhmout to look for her daughter, Aryna, from which she has been separated since the war ignited Ukraine a year ago, the little girl living in her paternal grandparents and her ex-husband having fled the city ​​west of Ukraine.

Arrived in the indicated neighborhood, Pavlo is looking for Aryna. It begins by searching a dark and humid cellar where some of the inhabitants of the neighborhood take refuge when the bombings are very intense. That morning, the cellar is empty. The sound of the cannon rumbles in the distance, but this suburb seems temporarily spared by the shell of artillery. Some old women go about their business between buildings, dragging their shopping bags to a humanitarian aid distribution. A man arrives while muggling. He reluctantly admits that he is Aryna’s grandfather. 2>

Difficult negotiation

Pavlo rushes in the apartment, a cramped two-piece where Aryna lives with his grandparents and his great-grandmother. They are huddled around a wood stove, the outside temperature surrounding the – 5 ° C. “I have to bring Aryna to his mother, in a safe place,” he said. It is welcomed by a border of the grandmother’s swear. “Aryna will not leave! It is we who raise it. She is very good here.”

Pavlo patiently tells why a little girl cannot stay to live in such bombings and, moreover, why the law requires that she be brought to one of her parents. “Kill me instead!” Shouts the grandmother. “It will end badly, this story! …”, predicts the grandfather, a man with a peaceful appearance, who suddenly wants to be threatening. “You are drunk!, Pavlo launches the grandmother. You pretend to want to take care of a child, while not only do you keep it here, on a battlefield, but you set vodka.” Aryna cries in silence. She tightens three teddy bear between her arms and twists her fingers.

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/Media reports cited above.