Friday, October 7

Ukraine urges to start reconstruction before winter

Until last February, Luba had a son and a house in Moschun. He worried about the chores of life and about his work as a masseuse in a nearby health center. He, too, had had to deal with the recent death of his elderly mother. Now, in sportswear and a face that never shows a smile, Luba walks with her head down among the remains of what was her home, stepping on riddled plates and the remains of burned-out appliances. On the ground, the jumble of ashes, lime and metals make it hard to imagine what this one-story building used to look like. Nothing has been left standing. Everything is burned, destroyed.

Moschun It was a small town with modernist houses, manicured gardens, and a relaxed life. But once the Russian siege of the Ukrainian capital began, its geography was a curse: located some thirty kilometers from kyiv, with military bases and an airport nearby, it quickly fell into the hands of Russian troops and, in a few weeks, became one of the foci of the most violent clashes in the first phase of the war launched this year by Moscow in Ukraine. The brutality was such that, when the Russian Army finally left the place, the local inhabitants discovered how far the war had gone there.

Sergii Zavadskyi, a member of the Ukrainian chapter of the Rotary Foundation, explains it in numbers. “More than 400 houses in this town, 70%, were damaged by the bombing, of which around 150 are no longer habitable. It’s amazing to see something like this in the 21st century, and it’s a big concern for winter,” he says, standing in front of Luba’s house. Zavadskyi explains that this woman is one of the many people affected in this town where reconstruction still seems like a pipe dream. The neighbors, at the moment, hardly have the support of the few volunteers benevolent, since the contribution of national and international funds have not yet arrived.

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At 76 years old, Dmitry Vasily Michailovich He says he’s not optimistic either as he points to the remains of two old, burned-out cars he kept in what was his garage, and a two-story house that’s now a mound of rubble. “We have hardly received any help. No one has contacted us and we are still waiting. It took me years to build this house and now I have nothing left,” he complains, while his wife picks up the fragments of a life that has ceased to exist from the ground.

Fear of a return of Russian soldiers in this part of Ukraine, the Ukrainian authorities rushed to announce reconstruction plans. In May, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky even launched a platform (called United24) that allows any country, institution and person to donate funds to Ukraine for reconstruction, while the Government of kyiv has begun to study a recovery plan to rebuild the economy and has made a request that compensation be demanded from Russia for the damage caused. In parallel, a marshall plan for Ukrainelike the one obtained by Europe and Japan after the Second World War, but, for the time being, a date for its study and start-up has not yet been announced.

The estimated cost of economic impact caused by the war it is already, to date, stratospheric for Ukraine. “The current figures speak of damages of about 600,000 million dollars, and the final figure could go up to a trillion dollars, or more. We will need a lot of help to rebuild the 44 million square meters of homes and commercial buildings destroyed throughout the country. , along with the nearly 200 industrial plants, and the 25,000 kilometers of highways that have also been damaged”, says the economist Sergiy Tsivkachhead of the investment center Ukraine Invest.

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The threat of cold

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The most immediate problem is the horizon of the winter. By then, a solution must be found for the hundreds of people who would otherwise be left on the streets in a country where the mercury column is often several degrees below zero. As Tsivkach says: “That they help us is vital and this has to happen before winter. Only for houses and businesses it is estimated that we will need 36,000 million dollars”, he says, to immediately explain that possible investors or donors could be the International Monetary Fund, the United States and the European Union, as well as humanitarian organizations.

It will not be an easy or fast path. One of the reasons is that we will also have to watch where the money goes. And the preamble admits approaches. Ukraine (44 million inhabitants in times of peace) was ranked 122 out of 188 (close to countries such as Niger or Mali) in the corruption perception index of the organization International Transparency in 2019, when Zelensky was elected president after a wave of citizen outrage over this situation. However, since then, things have not improved and in 2021, Ukraine remained in the same position.

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