Kharkiv metro people: fear of life up there


Status: 18/05/2022 10:23

For weeks, countless people have sought refuge in Kharkiv’s metro stations. After the withdrawal of the Russians, the train must leave. But some are afraid of what might be waiting for them outside.

By Andrea Beer, ARD Studio Moscow, currently Kharkiv

Mattresses with colorful woolen blankets, bunk beds with soft toys and even tents line the platform of the “Helden der Arbeit” metro station. Where trains normally thunder every minute, hundreds of people have set up camp – accompanied by cats, dogs and hamsters.

Andrea Beer

Protected from Russian missiles by meter-thick walls, many watch their mobile phones, while others read, chat or sleep. According to the authorities, several thousand people have been returning to Kharkiv every day since the situation calmed down.

Trains will soon be running again in the “Heroes of Work” underground station. Hundreds of people still live here.

No job, no income, no prospects

The metro will soon be restarted and people will gradually return to their homes or accommodation. Irina is obviously afraid of it:

They send me home. But we have no gas, no light and they say which house is safe to come home to. But there are shots. I did not ask to be kicked out of the house.

The 43-year-old sits on a narrow bench in dark green joggers. The nearly skinny market vendor lost her job and no income. But deep circles under the eyes: “If the war is over here, why is there shooting? How can we take people from here? Can you imagine that?”, she asks through the tears.

Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov, meanwhile, stresses that no one will be expelled from the metro. The only thing people were asked to do was get out of the cars and go to the platform. “If you feel comfortable in the station, you can stay. If you don’t and you have no other place to stay, we offer you accommodation.” By housing, he means dormitories, “because we have no living space at the moment because many houses have been destroyed”. “Tolerant and calm”, they want to settle the situation.

“We will continue to endure this”

But Tanja and Nina also worry that they’ll have to leave the subway shelter at some point. They stayed at the “Studentska” station. They promised that everything would be fine and that they could stay here until the end of the war, says Nina. “We’ve endured it and want to keep doing it. All the inconvenience, the cold here. So far they’ve taken good care of us, but I don’t think they can give us less food. they leave us here.”

Nina hadn’t been up there for two months, says Tanja, 64, dressed in a purple fleece and stroking her arm comfortingly. She is pale as death. “When you hear the rockets, no one knows where they are going, which way,” Nina explains.

Children like Danja and Danja were also accommodated in the “Helden der Arbeit” station.

tears and tranquilizers

“We’re going out,” says eleven-year-old Danja, and her grandmother Dana Mihailovna is already packing her bags. The agile 79-year-old woman in jeans wants to convey confidence: “I am a child of war and I don’t want children to internalize what it is: war. Peace must come as soon as possible. ” Meanwhile, her grandson is lounging on a cozy, fluffy mattress with a green woolen blanket, with brothers Sascha and Danja, aged nine and eleven.

Meanwhile, the desperate Irina continues to struggle to calm down. “I can’t take it anymore,” she cries. A woman regularly puts a sedative in her mouth. “No, I don’t,” she says at first, then she takes it anyway.

Sascha probably encountered desperate adults more often on the subway. The nine-year-old put it this way: “War is scary. That’s where people die. But there will be peace.”

Kharkov: Shelter Metro. The Panic of the Sun

Andrea Beer, ARD Moscow, currently Kharkiv, May 18, 2022 10:23 a.m.

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