ROSTOV-ON-DON, June 05 /ITAR-TASS/. The Dmitriadovsky rest house in Russia’s southern Rostov region has received 210 refugees from southeast Ukraine over the past three days. Most of them are children. The youngest is one year old, local administration official Alexander Tretyakov told Itar-Tass.
Psychologists are working with the children. They are afraid of harsh sounds and squeeze up against walls at the sight of a plane. They fear ambulances and associate doctors exclusively with the wounded.
“A total of 210 refugees, including 122 children, from the East Ukrainian cities of Donetsk, Lugansk and Slavyansk are currently staying at the rest home. We are helping them. They are provided with housing and food,” Tretyakov stressed. People who escaped shells are happy to hear babies cry.
The Dmitriadovsky rest home is located in a village of the same name, 15 kilometers away from the city of Taganrog in the Neklinovsky district of the Rostov region.
“Thirty employees are working at the home but their number can be increased if necessary. So far we are coping. We are trying to entertain the kids. We are organizing concerts and hobby groups for them. People are staying here like families,” the rest home’s director, Viktor Parkhomenko, said.
The refugees are staying in modest standard rooms with all essential things inside. The place is nice. It is surrounded by a forest with the Gulf of Taganrog being just two steps away. The guests are very pleased.
“You know, stillness is the most important thing. Nothing is exploding. We are happy to hear even a child’s cry,” they say.
Valentina Alfimova, a 27-year-old saleswoman from Slavyansk, has arrived in the Rostov region with three children of one, three and five years old.
“We received a phone call from the mayor’s office. They told us to be ready in 15 minutes. We did not even say good-bye to our relatives. We had a small house which we had interiorized for eight years. But we had to leave it. I am afraid we will have no place to return. It can simply be blown up,” Alfimova stressed.
Irina Yarmosh, another woman from Slavyansk, has the same story. Her house had come under a mortar fire shortly before she learnt about possible evacuation.
“We already had a hole in the wall. One shell landed somewhere near right on International Children’s Day. Yes, it is true. Some other day I went to fetch my child from a kindergarten and I barely managed to make my way home because shooting broke out. I had no place to hide. I could not even hear the alert siren. Sometimes, they did not have time to turn it on. It was best heard after the bombardments,” the woman said.
Her three-year-old daughter Yulia Yarmosh cannot pronounce words clearly and distinctly. Nevertheless, she can explain clearly and coherently why she had to leave home.
“We slept in the corridor. There were no windows there but there were more walls. I slept in my clothes. A bomb fell into our yard, and my brother Stasik immediately came to us on a bicycle. I was frightened, and our dog hid under an armchair. I was happy to get away,” the little girl rattled smiling sincerely.
“She is smiling now. But she was frightened when they were bombing us. She was almost stuttering. She put her hands around her head each time she heard some rustling and ran to me crying ‘mother’. It also happened here,” Yarmosh went on to say.
Irina’s elder daughter Yulia is 14 years old. She was in the ninth grade but she could not take her exams and go to a graduation party. She chose a dress for the party but could not buy it because she had to run away.
Parents of many senior schoolgirls are telling similar stories. The mothers are calming their daughters down. They say they will have their graduation parties some other day when the war was over.
Children are squeezing up against walls or going away from streets at the sound of an approaching plane or helicopter. Parents say their first impulse as they hear the roar is to run up to the child, snatch him and run away. But a second later, they realize that no one is going to drop bombs on a Russian rest home.
Some adults say that they managed to get accustomed to constant shots and explosions.
“Fear de-numbs. Military hostilities have been under way at our place for a long time, and had I took everything close to heart I would have only sat and thought how a bullet could hit me. The same is true of children. I forbid my daughter to go out because they are shooting there,” Olga Irova, the mother of three-year-old Eva, says. “I am not afraid,” Eva replied to her mother.
But most refugees failed to get used to constant explosions. So, unwilling and confused they go to psychologists who work predominantly with children. Doctors have stopped being something peaceful in their children’s minds and are associated only with battles.
All children are morally exhausted. “This is an ambulance carrying the wounded,” one child said pointing to our car,” children’s doctor Tatyana Ovcharenko said.
According to Andrei Zhuravlyov, the head of the Neklinovsky district, the Dmitriadovsky rest home can receive up to 700 people. Buses with refugees are coming every day.
“New people can come. We have everything ready for them. I enter the bus first to see the conditions of parents and children. I explain to them where they should go if they have problems and who is responsible,” Zhuravlyov said, adding there were other rest homes in the district that could accommodate refugees if necessary.
Zhuravlyov says the refugees are supposed to be at Dmitriadovskoye until August. But no one can say for sure for how long they are really going to stay there.