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Ukraine War: ‘We have nowhere to go’ – dozens living on train after narrowly escaping Russian occupation | world news

The Kagarlytskyi family narrowly escaped Russian occupation in the Kyiv suburb of Irpin.

After three months on the run, moving from place to place, they returned home.

But they lost everything and now live in a train car as they try to put their lives back together.

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They showed me around their cramped cabin. Up to 25 families live on the train after it was turned into temporary accommodation to help the large number of people whose homes were destroyed here.

A car is now a toilet block, the dining car is where they get three meals a day. It’s basic but a creative use of space in a city where so many people are now homeless.

“In general, the conditions are good,” says the mother, Mila Kagarlytski. “But how long can we stay here, we don’t know. Because at the moment we have nowhere to go.”

Son Vlad's cat survived
Image:
Son Vlad’s cat survived

The Kyiv suburb of Irpin is about as close as the Russians have come to the capital in this war. As the bombs fell on their neighborhood, they witnessed unimaginable horrors.

“We were picking up the debris and pulling out the injured,” said father Yevhen Kagarlytski. “Literally two minutes later we saw an airstrike with our own eyes. Two or three minutes after that we ran over there and started getting people out.”

The family first retreated to a basement, but when Russian troops began to occupy the city, they made the decision to escape, narrowly missing the barbarism that followed.

“We left on March 4 – that was the last day we could leave by car. The next day all communications were cut off,” Mila said. “There were already Russian tanks in Irpin. But we took the risk and went with our own car.”

The mass exodus of Russian troops from this region in April left a town destroyed and a community traumatized.

Residents who remained had harrowing stories of abuse, assault and execution. The bodies of nearly 300 civilians were found there, including a disproportionate number of women.

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Up to 25 families live on a train
Image:
Up to 25 families live on the train

Slowly some residents have returned, but the threat remains here. The windows of the wagons where they now sleep are sealed to protect them from the impact of further shelling.

I asked the family what brought them back if there was nothing to go home? The answer was simple – their son Vlad missed school and missed his friends.

Her school was bombed and is the most destroyed school in the area. But Vlad tells me about a friend of his who stayed all the time in Irpin, living in a basement during the Russian occupation.

It was such a heartbreaking thing to hear from a 12 year old. But where else could he talk about his experience if not at his home in Irpin with his friends who also endured it?

He proudly showed me the coloring game he had been given and told me he loved living on the train. What a contrast to most children’s summer vacations.

Then, in a serious tone, Vlad talked about his pet cat they had left behind. He had saved his pocket money to buy Alice. Somehow she had survived their absence and the Russian occupation. They now make a daily visit to their bombed-out building to feed her every day.

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The family's apartment building was very badly damaged
Image:
The family building was badly damaged.

He invited us to join them. We followed their family car along roads lined with bullet holes and destroyed buildings – a chilling reminder that it was only in the spring that this leafy suburb was terrorized by street-to-street fighting.

The family cleared all the rubble from the stairwell of their building to reach Alice, who remains locked in their old house on one of the upper floors. Seeing Vlad crack a wide smile brought a sense of relief.

You feel that the daily family visits to feed their cat are just as much for them. Almost everyone you meet here is scarred by this war.

Everyone gets out of it in their own way.

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Post expires at 3:21am on Friday July 22nd, 2022