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How does the frontline town of Orikhiv live

The Russian military, currently positioned about six kilometers away, shells Orikhiv in the Zaporizhzhia region almost daily. They attack a town with artillery and multiple rocket launchers, sometimes dropping aerial bombs. Despite the constant sounds of explosions, about a thousand people remain in the city.

Russian troops drop six bombs on Orikhiv on January 18, 2024.
Photo: Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration

Orikhiv is under shelling from the first days of the full-scale invasion in 2022. There were days when Russia shelled it more than 300 times. The battles took place 3-4 kilometers from the city. However, the Russians failed to break through the Ukrainian defense.

Not a single high-rise building survived in the city. Educational institutions, a church, and private houses were destroyed. Law enforcement officers record 10 to 30 destructions here every day.

The city has been without gas and electricity since the second month of the full-scale war. Vitaliі Pіelіaі, a resident of Orikhiv, says he has his own generator, buys gas in cylinders, and gets water from rescuers, like most locals.

Before the full-scale invasion, more than 19 thousand people lived in the Orikhiv community. Now, about 1000 people remain here. Some live in Points of Invincibility, organised spaces with heat, water, electricity, Internet, medical and other supplies. Some have moved to basements, cooking, doing laundry, and bathing here.

Local residents take care of animals whose owners have left or died. Yuriі and Liubov Lysenko stayed in Orikhiv for the sake of the animals. “We feed 50 cats and about 15-18 dogs. We don’t know where to put them all. To be honest, there is a lot of work at home: in a garden, or in the house… We are busy from morning to evening. We cook three or four pots of porridge with some chicken broth for the cats and dogs,” Liubov shared with the Ukrinform journalists.

Residents of Orikhiv are patching up damaged houses between explosions and taking care of their farms. However, locals need permission from the military to sow or harvest their crops, in part because of the threat of mining and constant shelling, which sometimes lasts for 7-14 hours.

Nevertheless, the Ukrainian government and volunteers supply the necessary things. Medical facilities in the city have been closed since the beginning of the full-scale war. There is only one doctor left in Orikhiv, Yana Kolomoіets. She receives medicines from volunteers and sees patients in a small room.

Yana Kolomoіets provides medicines to local residents for free.
Photo: Suspilne Zaporizhzhia

Local resident Oleh Dudka delivers medicines to pensioners on his street. He says that about 20 elderly people live there, and he takes care of his 95-year-old mother: “They often need medical care. They need pills and different kinds of medicines. Well, when we go to our nurse here, she always gives us everything she has. Otherwise, we go to Zaporizhzhia”.

Yet, Orikhiv’s story is not just about survival but resilience, hope, and gratitude. Gratitude to the Ukrainian defenders and everyone who fights to bring peace back to this and every other Ukrainian city.