Olga Avershyna with her son Dimitri Macdonald, 4.
Olga Avershyna with her son Dimitri Macdonald, 4. Patrick Woods

Ukraine conflict so real for Olga

THE bloodshed in the military conflict in Ukraine is a little too close to home for one Buderim mother.

Olga Avershyna grew up in Luhansk, a Ukrainian town minutes from the Russian border which has seen some of the conflict's blood-iest battles.

When she moved to the Sunshine Coast 10 years ago, she never thought she would be watching her home town being destroyed.

The 31-year-old mother of one is monitoring the military conflict in Ukraine daily, holding her breath for her entire family living in the eye of the turmoil which has already killed hundreds of innocent people.

Surrounding her mother's home, within just 10 minutes, are gun-wielding men, low-flying planes, roadblocks and dead bodies littering the usually quiet town.

"It's scary. My mum is right there where the shootings are happening," Ms Avershyna said. "She is in the heart of the danger.

"I spoke to my mum just a few days ago and even the locals are not 100% sure who is fighting with who, who to trust and what their motivation is to fight.

"They are all very scared."

WAR ZONE: A soldier surveys the wreckage of a Ukraine Air Force transport plane shot down as it was approaching Luhansk airport, killing 49 people.
WAR ZONE: A soldier surveys the wreckage of a Ukraine Air Force transport plane shot down as it was approaching Luhansk airport, killing 49 people. MSTYSLAV CHERNOVEPA

Ms Avershyna said it was upsetting to see the once friendly and peaceful town at the centre of the turmoil.

Luhansk is all but deserted as residents flee before the situation escalates. Fighting between government forces and pro-Russia rebels has continued despite President Petro Poroshenko's call for ceasefire on Friday.

This conflict did not start suddenly. It has slowly crept up on eastern Ukraine. But in places it is a low-level war.

At least 356 people, including 257 civilians, have died since the beginning of the "anti-terrorist" operation in Ukraine's eastern regions of Luhansk and nearby city of Donetsk, according to UN calculations.

A national day of mourning was held in Ukraine last week for 49 people who were killed when a military plane was shot down near Luhansk airport.

"All my family is over there, my mum, sister, aunties, cousins," Ms Avershyna said.

"It's hard being so far away from them. I worry all the time."

Ms Avershyna's mother is caught in a dilemma, between avoiding putting her life in danger and protecting her property and livelihood.

She plans to flee before the fighting escalates but the family is taking life one day at a time.

"My mother is a traditional Ukrainian woman," Ms Avershyna said.

"She loves her country and it is so sad for her to see it this way.

"Right near her home she has checkpoints and roadblocks and people standing with guns.

"The people are very scared but it's hard because they have families and pets and homes, so they can't just drop everything.

"Then there's criminals who start looting when they hear the homes are empty.

"My mum has a train ticket and she is going to see my aunty in Russia because it is just so dangerous for her to be there now.

"The amount of people escaping is unbelievable.

People are waiting four hours in queues to get a train ticket.

"If negotiations don't start happening to stop this, the locals really don't know what is going to happen.

"They don't know who to trust anymore. You can't tell if it's locals trying to protect their families or the enemy

"Locals are really confused and don't know what's going on.

"I just wonder what the point of all this really is, what are they fighting for?"


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