Ukraine war: The aid team dodging Putin’s bombs to deliver supplies to those trapped in Donbas | World News



As the sound of war bangs in the distance, Oleksiy Savkevych and his volunteers take essential supplies wherever they are needed.

They are a lifeline to the people trapped by the fighting in the frontline town of Avdiivka, which sits next to the rebel held city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

It has been fought over since 2014 and is smack in the path of Putin’s army as Russia tries to conquer the Donbas – the industrial heartland of the country.

“Before the invasion on 24 February there were twenty five, thirty thousand so many evacuated, some still stay here,” Oleksiy says.

And those who can’t, or who’ve not been able to leave are the people he’s helping, he says.

The first drop off is an elderly man whose family now live in Russian occupied territory.

He is scared and all alone, but like many here is too frail to get out.

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Strewn across the paths, where they make their deliveries, there are the fragments of bombs and rockets.

The destruction here has left this place without power and running water and the people left are increasingly desperate.

But the fighting doesn’t stop Oleksiy and the other humanitarian workers from loading their van with more supplies.

Oleksiy Savkevych and his volunteers take essential supplies wherever they are needed

Explosions heard in the distance

After they’ve delivered in the centre they must cross the railway into the eastern district.

Their drive takes them to the edges of the town, and even nearer the fighting.

As more bags are handed over, explosions can be heard in the distance.

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They are a lifeline to the people trapped by the fighting

Tetiana, one of the many people he helps, tells me what the war has done to this community.

“You are afraid to go anywhere. I need to go to the town but I’m afraid. You can’t go anywhere – when the bombs whistle we need to take cover. How do you think we’re living?” she says.

The delivery team go anywhere and everywhere despite the danger.

Their next visit is even closer to the frontline and the handover is nerve-wracking.

Whilst distributing the aid, shells whistle overhead landing close to where the team are standing.

Families duck back into their homes and everybody looks for a place to stay down – in truth there aren’t really any safe places.

Everywhere is exposed.

Eventually, when it feels like the immediate danger has passed, because there’s a pause in the fighting, they move from cover and leave the area, but incredibly Oleksiy continues the deliveries.

“We wait and until we understand it is safer and then we continue,” he says.

On the last stop we meet Valentina and her six grandchildren.

Valentina and her six grandchildren

In their childhood innocence they seem oblivious to the war around them, playing games, as she reveals how their lives have changed.

We were living in an apartment. We are just temporarily here to hide. We have another apartment there. Why are we not there? Because there’s a lot of shooting so the girls are afraid to be there,” she says.

Every week civilians here are killed in the fighting.

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Oleksiy and his team know their work is dangerous but so too is living on the frontline.

And without him the suffering for many of the people in this town would be even worse.


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