Wednesday, February 21

Civilians help civilians in Ukraine


In the Horizon and Solnechii neighborhoods of Kharkiv, in a particularly bomb-hit southeastern part of the city, gray multi-story buildings bear the scars of war inside and out. They still stand tall though eaten away by projectiles and painted black by fires, with the windows half-fallen, emptied of human lives behind broken glass. The vast majority of the residents have long since left, although not all of them, and it is these, the most vulnerable who wander at the foot of these houses, now undeterred by hearing the artillery, who Boris serve. He gives them the medicine, which they ask for because they don’t have it, and asks how they are, since many have even lost electricity.

He is not even 30 years old, he is a computer scientist, and now he is part of the Ukrainian civil resistance networks, that is, basically, civilians who help other more defenseless civilians. The state deals with war. They, of the population. “It’s what I do most of the time now, if I didn’t, who would?” Boris wonders. “No one,” he replies before the question reaches the recipient.

The devastation of the conflict has activated these citizen cells, made up of hundreds of people, like that of Yan, a young man who recently graduated in French Literature and who, at 25, is the last link in this system. His task is to deliver humanitarian aid, while others deal with logistics and coordination. “It’s the least I can do for my city… we can’t stay at home, and wait, wait, that would kill me,” he says, walking through Oleksiivka, another humble neighborhood hit by the conflict, like almost all the areas from the city of Kharkiv.

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“It’s a terrible crisis”

Masha Sobolieva not stop either. While attending to some neighbors, he speaks with his contact in the Army to find out in real time the situation on the ground, and then arranges a trip to Poltava, a small city more than a hundred kilometers from Kharkiv considered by many to be a still safe haven for those heading to this area of ​​eastern Ukraine. “It is a terrible crisis; there are hundreds of elderly people, people with disabilities and families in need who don’t have the basics,” he says.

Not all improvised cooperators they are local. There are also some from cities in the west of the country, although they are fewer in Kharkiv, others are from other areas in the east, and even travel kilometers from the borders of Ukraine to this city, particularly affected by a war that has no rest. They hide in shelters Y underground warehousesto which medicine and food arrive, which is then distributed throughout the city, sometimes also transported in ambulances, whose final destination is local hospitals.

Some have ties to jewish communities, very numerous in the east of the country; Others have ties to the diaspora in the United States and Europe, which also help them financially, and many are young people linked to the world of computing. programmers, hackersY cyber security experts that, in recent years, they had found job opportunities in these sectors thanks to higher salaries and better working conditions than many of the other professions in the country, which they call ‘

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Silicon Valley’.

decentralized networks

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“We are decentralized networks, without a single boss in charge,” says Denis, who is just under 40 years old, has a daughter and ex-wife in Ternopiland the rest of the family in Dnipro. “A lot of our work is based on trust. There is simply no other. We are many and not all of us know each other. It’s risky, but it’s the only way there is for help to arrive quickly,” he says, showing the walkie talkie What do you have to guide a humanitarian convoy toward Kharkiv.

It is Dnipro one of the greats hub where they work to coordinate this other Army: one that has even organized helplines for those in danger of death. They attend to them at any time, even guiding them through the routes that are believed to be less dangerous, giving them information about possible windows for their departures, organizing the dispatch of buses to rescue them, and then hiding them in improvised shelters whose exact location these anonymous aid networks try to hide. .


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