Despite constant military activity in the Donbas, many residents refuse when they are offered the chance to evacuate. ERR correspondents Anton Aleksejev and Kristjan Svirgsden visited the small front-line town of Mykolaivka to talk to the locals.
Mykolaivka was home to some 10,000 people before February 24. Less than half remain. The safest place in town is the bomb shelter. Some have been living there since the start of the war. They do not plan to evacuate.
"My pension is tiny, while it takes a lot of money to escape. I would need to rent an apartment somewhere. Acquaintances told me that they did not receive the help promised to them by the government. My grandchild got out and wanted to take me with them, while I said I would not leave. They and their family are young. I will stay here," Zinaida said.
"Please tell me why I should leave my home? I'm a descendant of my parents and forebears. They lived here and didn't leave even during the Nazi occupation. Why should I betray my ancestors? Why should I leave my home?" Valentina said.
Mayor Anatoli Tshentsov is tasked with organizing humanitarian aid and evacuation.
"Humanitarian aid is organized by volunteers, the local government and the state. People are given food aid, which is why they do not want to leave. They say that because I have bread, porridge, butter and other food items, why should I leave?" the mayor explained.
The police are also involved in evacuation. "As the intensity of fire grows, so does the danger for local residents. That is when people start thinking about leaving the dangerous place and moving to where it's safer," police officer Oleksi Akopov said.
It was relatively calm in Mykolaivka on Saturday. No one wished to evacuate.
Editor: Marcus Turovski