Ukrainian photographers share story of girl from Soledar whose parents refuse to evacuate

6 December 2022, 10:32 AM
A girl from Soledar has been living in a basement for 9 months (Photo:libkos/Instagram)

A girl from Soledar has been living in a basement for 9 months (Photo:libkos/Instagram)

Ukrainian photographers Kostiantyn and Vlada Liberovy, who document Russia’s war against Ukraine, have shared a story of a girl from the town of Soledar, Donetsk Oblast, who has been living in a basement for nine months.

On Dec. 3, the photographers posted on Instagram a series of photos of Nastia, who lives under daily artillery shelling with her family in a basement.

In their post, the photographers also said that Nastia’s parents have refused to evacuate her.

“The girl in these photos is Nastia,” they said.

“She seems to be seven years old. And for nine months, she has been living in a basement of the destroyed town of Soledar, which is almost levelled to the ground. She lives here with her mother and grandmother, and several other residents of the building. They don’t want to leave the town despite the fact that every day they might be killed. (And this is) despite the fact that Nastia, even if she survives, will receive and has already received such deep psychological traumas that it will be very difficult for her to build her future life.”

Video of day

The photographers also said that the grandmother and mother had refused to evacuate the girl, claiming that she started speaking better due to the stressful situation.

Photo: libkos/Instagram

“We’re writing this post, feeling completely helpless, because we don’t know what to do in such a situation,” the photographers wrote.

“We came, hoping to evacuate the family, which Ihnat (their friend) has been trying to persuade to leave the town, which is under daily artillery fire, in vain for several months. Instead, we witnessed an absolutely absurd dialogue, during which the girl’s grandmother began to claim that, under the influence of constant stress, Nastia began to... speak better (a video at the end of the post). Yes, Nastia had certain health problems. As far as we understood, the girl’s family made a lot of efforts before the war to make her start talking. But now any arguments – that a damp, cold basement in the town, which is under daily shelling, is not a place for a child to live – remain completely unheard.”

The photographers emphasized they cannot evacuate the girl by force in this situation and raised the important issue of how to act in such cases.

“What to do in such a situation?” they asked.

“Neither the police nor the authorities have been in the town for a long time. In principle, only Ihnat and his team can get there, since even a short stay in Soledar is life-threatening. Nastia’s mother and grandmother are well aware of this, so any threats to complain to the guardianship authorities have no effect: the guardianship authorities simply won’t get here. To evacuate the girl by force? First of all, this is illegal, and secondly, it’s almost impossible as some kind of community has formed in the basement, and they simply won’t allow it to be done. Thirdly, taking a child away from the family by force is another powerful psychological trauma for the child who has already suffered. And the worst thing about all this is that Nastia and her family are not an isolated case. There are many such children in such basements in the war zone. What should be done in such situations? How can the child’s life be saved?”

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