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The war with Russia may be a key issue in the Ukrainian presidential election, but on the ground, many civilians caught up in the conflict say their problems are not being addressed.

In the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukrainian soldiers, rebel fighters and civilians are dying every day as the conflict grinds on. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes and are struggling to make new lives as the war tears apart communities. Thousands of Ukrainians still live along the front lines and are now enduring their sixth year of conflict.

"We need peace," said Nikolai Yushkov, a pensioner from the Mayorsk suburb of Horlivka. "Everyone says, 'You need to sit down and you need to negotiate.' Peace. We need peace."

Donetsk and Luhansk

Marina Pugacheva heads the nongovernmental organization Bereginja' that's based in the city of Mariupol. The charity helps Ukrainians caught in the conflict, many of them elderly and vulnerable.

"The two main problems are survival itself, and also unemployment," said Pugacheva. "This is because 70 percent of the land is either heavily mined, or it became no man's land."

Ukrainian authorities say as many as 270 civilians have been killed in landmine explosions since the war began in 2014.

The dangers have forced 1.5 million Ukrainians to flee their homes. The refugees are given about $100 a month by the government, barely enough to pay rent on a basic apartment. Mariupol has received more than 100,000 Ukrainians who have fled the war or abandoned their homes in rebel-controlled territory.

Ukraine landmine
FILE - A poster reading 'Stop! Mines!' stands at a verge near the city of Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, June 24, 2014.

In the shadow of the city's sprawling steelworks, Ukrainian orthodox priest Volodymyr Koskin has watched the conflict unfold over the past six years. He laments the deep divisions that have emerged.

"Everyone is united, first of all, by faith and hope because any conflict or war comes to an end. Faith teaches us that, sooner or later, a person will have to look into the eyes of his former enemies," said Koskin.

For now, there is little sign that either side in this conflict is ready for reconciliation.

Election access

Many civilians living near the front lines haven't been able to vote in the election. Many aren't registered on the electoral roll, while others are unable to reach polling stations due to the dangers of the conflict or a lack of transport.

An elderly woman casts her ballot at home during t
FILE - An elderly woman casts her ballot at home during the presidential election in Mariinka, near a contact line not far from Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, March 31, 2019.

Pugacheva says their plight has received little attention.

"I don't think the presidential candidates have this issue on their radar. Because these people are not their electorate, so they don't care," Pugacheva said.

The colorful campaigns in Kyiv seem far removed from the bleak reality of life on the front line — a conflict with no obvious end and no easy answers.