Ukraine refugees: Finding shelter from the war

Tom Burridge looks inside the disused factory being used as shelter for refugees

Every day more than 1,000 people flee the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, according to the United Nations. The UN says that when the winter sets in, some of the shelters where people are living will no longer be suitable. Some families who have fled the fighting are now living in an old factory on the edge of the capital, Kiev.

A fan whirs in a big blue temporary tent, which is now a kitchen-cum-dining room.

Along one side, people sort through a mountain of second-hand clothes.

And opposite, on this industrial estate, is a semi-circle shaped warehouse, which was an abandoned factory and is now a temporary home for 159 people.

I meet the innocent-faced Alexi Kibikalo, 16.

His family have been living here for two months.

Life here is "boring", he says, as all of his friends are back in his home city of Donetsk, where there are "bombs every day".

'No bombs'

Inside the warehouse are several long lines of cramped bunk beds, made out of cheap chipboard.

Andrew, Lina and their children Andrew, Lina and their children are now living is a disused factory in Kiev
Refugee shelter outside Kiev

"It's intense living with so many other people," says Andrew, who has also been living on this industrial estate for two months with his wife Lina, and their four children. "You can't relax like you would at home."

The couple don't want to give their surname, because they fear about their future in eastern Ukraine, once the war there is over.

"At least we have a roof here and there are no bombs falling from the sky," says Lina.

But although their three youngest children, aged four, five and nine, first saw their new warehouse home as an adventure, the novelty has worn off.

"The children cry," Lina says. "They want to go home."

Andrew has not been able to find a job in Kiev, as companies are reluctant to hire people who, in theory, will only be temporary workers.

'Primitive conditions'

As the fighting in eastern Ukraine intensifies between government forces and pro-Russian rebels, around the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, the UN says that in the past week alone 6,200 people have fled their homes.

Civilians outside a rebel-run hostel in the city of Donetsk, 4 August Other displaced civilians are staying at rebel-run shelters inside the war zone, like these people outside a hostel on Monday

Some 25,000 people live in temporary shelters in the south of the Donetsk region "often in very primitive conditions", says Oldrich Andrysek from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

Rebel forces generally do not allow men of fighting age to leave, he says.

The latest figures released by the UN show that in total 117,000 people have fled the fighting and moved to other parts of Ukraine while a further 168,000 have moved to Russia.

Oldrich Andrysek describes many of the shelters in the east, near to the conflict zone, as "rudimentary".

"While people have a door, a roof and a bed, there is often a shortage of mattresses, bed linen and hygiene items," he says.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of people displaced from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, from 2,600 in early June to 102,600 now.

And although there has been a strong show of solidarity from Ukrainian civil society, the UN is worried about the coming winter.

It says some shelters, like the old factory on the edge of Kiev, will be unsuitable once the temperatures plummet, because they have no heating system.

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