: When your home becomes a permanent battlefield

16:06 May. 10, 2016

When your home becomes a permanent battlefield

A service at the destroyed Iversky Monastery on the Feast day of the Icon of Panagia Portaitissa. (Getty Images)

In eastern Ukraine dangerous no-man's land the war wages on and the hardy souls stuck in the middle constantly find new ways to survive  

'Every night, they start shooting,' Evdokia says with a resigned golden-toothed smile. 'This side, then that side. Back and forth. Sometimes in the morning, too. We try to go about our lives like normal, but there's hardly anybody left,' Narratively reports.

Read also UN: 9,300 killed in Donbas

The 62-year-old babushka adjusts her green kerchief so it sits better on her round jowly face. She's lived in the village of Kodema all her life. Part of Ukraine's eastern Donbass region, Kodema lies in what's known as 'the gray zone,' a ten-to- fifteen-mile-wide, 150-mile-long strip of territory separating land controlled by the Ukrainian government on one side and by Russian-backed separatists on the other.

The potholed road here cuts through an abandoned checkpoint, one which frequently changes hands between Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) troops and rebel fighters from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR).

The war in Ukraine began in spring of 2014, in the wake of a popular revolution that overthrew the government of Viktor Yanukovych and called for closer ties with the West. As a reaction, Russia annexed the Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and began backing separatists in the eastern regions with arms and troops.

Read also 10 things you need to know about Ukraine's crisis

A ceasefire agreement was reached in February 2015, but fighting continues here every day. According to the agreement the so-called "gray zone" is supposed to be demilitarized. In reality it is anything but.

One of Evdokia's sons has remained in the village; her daughter has gone to Kostyantynivka, in the Ukrainian-controlled part of Donbass; and another son 'is gone.' She shakes her head and winces behind a few whiskers. She won't say whether he moved away or died. 'On pashol,' she repeats in Russian. He's gone.

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