Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ukraine Orphans Become Pawns in Civil Conflict

Children from Donetsk orphanage gather to speak to journalists in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Monday, July 14, 2014. The Donetsk People's Republic want to take about 130 orphans living in a Donetsk orphanage and send them to Russia.

By BALINT SZLANKO of Associated Press

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Tamara Popova and her fellow orphans are adamant: They don't want to go to Russia. The separatist gunmen running this eastern Ukrainian city aren't asking. They're giving orders.  As fighting between insurgent and government troops closes in on the city, the 130 or so children living at Donetsk Orphanage No. 1 find themselves in the middle of a tug of war.  The insurgents say the children will be safer in Russia. Ukraine wants to move them to facilities in government-held territory, at least until the fighting dies own. It says taking them outside the country would be tantamount to a kidnapping.  "Normal people would ask our opinion," the 16-year-old Popova said, as other orphans nodded in agreement. "We told them that this was against the law, that we have brothers and sisters here. But then they started to swear."

The orphanage has children from age 7 into their late teens. It's clean and well-ordered. Pictures of stars from the local Shaktyar Donetsk soccer team hang in one room. Another is decorated with a fairytale tableau. Girls' bedrooms are decked in pink wallpaper and hung with floral pattern curtains.
It's an image of peace undermined by the menace of violence. Men bearing automatic rifles arrived one recent day to lay down the law about moving to Russia, terrifying everybody.

Read entire article HERE.

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