Ukraine Stories: ‘It’s a shame for children still born’

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This text comes from the project “Ukraine Stories” launched by the English-speaking partner of “Time” Geneva Solutions, which deals with the international Geneva. It is about supporting and publishing the work of dozens of Ukrainian and Russian journalists who have lost their jobs or their media, but not their know-how.

A crowdfunding campaign covered the first two months of the project. If you want to support him for the future, write info[at]

I met Yana through my new roommates, Nastya and Bogdan. I come from Kiev, those from Kharkiv, but we all sought refuge in a house in western Ukraine. Together they have many medical friends, including Yana Krylenko, who has been a gynecologist for 32 years at the Kharkiv Regional Perinatal Center.

“Our maternity ward is close to the center and the situation changes every day, Yana explains to me on the phone from her workplace, sometimes the fights are very close to us.”

35 kilometers from the Russian border, Kharkiv is one of the most devastated cities in the country. On February 24, it rained missiles, and two days later, Russian tanks entered the city with 1.5 million people. Today, the city is partially besieged.

There are few patients, but even fewer doctors. “Few pregnant women are still here, but we are ready for force majeure. The mothers give birth in the delivery room and then go down with the baby in the basement,” she says.

In the operating room, the windows are covered with plastic so that broken windows do not harm doctors, mothers or their infants. “The block continues to function. It is only if there is a lot of noise outside that we go down into the basement,” Yana explains.

Since it is not possible to travel between home and work twice a day, staff have been adjusting their schedules since March. He works two days in a row in the hospital and rests the rest of the week. The day I talk to Yana, the tram tracks in Kharkiv are dismantled after a Russian bombing. I ask her if she is not afraid that the same fate awaits the hospital.

“In March, a piece of artillery shattered the windows of the examination room, but fortunately no one was injured,” she says in a calm voice, as if that kind of thing happens in all maternity wards in the world.

The last attack in the center of Kharkiv is recent, it dates from 3 May. Yet Yana still refuses to leave town. “My children fled to Kropyvnytskyi in the middle of the country, but my husband, my mother and I want to stay. People need us here. It’s as if the doctors are mobilized. Although no one asks us, we are useful, and she adds, I do not want a medal, I just want to be home.

Like Russian tanks, the fear does not seem to linger in Kharkiv. While the city mayor ten days ago confirmed the destruction of a third of the houses in the city, Yana simply replies that there is always a rumble. She explains: “We quickly understood that if there is a whistle, you have to lie down on the ground, but if there is a thunderous sound, it is our Ukrainian army. That’s a good sign. “

I think I can hear Yana pulling on her cigarette through the handset. I ask her what she intends to do when the war is over. She takes a long break, the first since the beginning of our conversation. Her voice trembles and she explodes: “I want to strangle them all. They must take responsibility for their actions. Today, at one o’clock in the morning, a wonderful couple arrived, a very nice man and his wife, young, beautiful, “with full-time pregnancy. They did not ask for any of this, and some monsters dare to ruin their lives. It is a pity for the children who are born.”

Oleksandra Ambroz is a television journalist in Kiev. She was recently evacuated to western Ukraine. Translation and adaptation: Aylin Elci

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