KRASNOHORIVKA, EASTERN UKRAINE —
In eastern Ukraine, villages cut off by military front lines are on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. Ukraine's Kyiv government can't seem to get supplies in and pro-Russia separatist forces have not been able to restore war-damaged services in towns behind their lines. Next week, European leaders are to meet in Germany to discuss Ukraine's cease-fire and concerns for civilians.
In the front-line town of Krasnohorivka, after separatists blew up a road, only one other passage remains – and it's a gauntlet open to sniper fire.
Despite the risk, Pastor Vladimir Ivanov, a volunteer from Good News Church, brings much-needed food aid into the town. People living here say they have not received aid from the Ukrainian government in weeks. Cut off by the front lines, people here largely have been left to fend for themselves.
The Red Cross and local churches provide some humanitarian aid, but "it's not enough" for the 8,000 to 9,000 residents, Ivanov said.
"People are coming back," he said, "but there are no jobs, no income here for most people and the food stocks – what people had is now finished."
Outside a government aid point recently, people waited futilely for Red Cross food or vouchers from Ukrainian oligarch Renat Akhmetov to be given out.
"People stand here waiting for humanitarian aid of any kind ... but now we have been asked by city council to make a waiting list – a list just to wait to be added to the food aid waiting list," said one, Svetlana.
Heavy shelling in January shattered the water pipes, damaging homes. Krasnohorivka has no gas, water or electricity. But with nowhere else to go, people cannot leave.
Ekateryna, a mother of three, said her family has not eaten in a week. Her husband is gone.
"I am alone, I have three daughters. We depend on humanitarian aid. We only get it one time a month. It’s only enough food for three or four days. The rest we are surviving with is what God is giving to us." she said. "We have no power...so we are sitting in the cold house after windows were smashed by shrapnel. Thanks to God nobody was wounded."
Noah's Ark is one of two churches in the town providing food and warm clothes for up to 140 people a day. With no jobs and money running out, this is the only option for many families.
"The zones here, they are special because people living here they are cut off from normal life, nobody cares about them. There is no opportunity to bring food supplies here from both sides, because it appears it is not Ukrainian and not separatist territory," said Pastor Vladimir Pryadka.
As the cease-fire remains fragile, movement in this border town may become more restricted and the situation could worsen, unless something changes fast.