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Ukraine: Six months have passed and Mykolaiv got used to the war

Six months after the start of the war, missiles rain daily on Mykolaiv, a large city in southern Ukraine, but the inhabitants note with horror or resignation that they have adapted to this new reality. A dozen neighbors, empty 5 or 10-liter cans at a safe distance, speak in a queue to fill up on drinking water in the ill-called Soukhiï Fontan (Ukrainian “dry fountain”) neighborhood. Since the fighting knocked out a pipeline in April, the tap water, after being cut off for a long time, is salty and drinking water is only accessible from the fountains installed in each neighborhood. But this is no longer what disturbs the people of Mykolaiv. “Recently, there was an explosion near my house. It’s scary, but the terrible thing is that I’ve already taken the plunge,” says Eva Goudzon, a 35-year-old photographer and singer. She no longer sleeps at night waiting for the strikes. “The rhythm still disturbs me when I have to take care of my two children during the day,” she says. A strategic port in the estuary of the Dnipro River (Dnieper in Russian), Mykolaiv was almost occupied at the beginning of the war, almost surrounded by Russian troops. His capture would open the way to Odessa for the Russians in the west and would certainly change the course of the war. At the cost of heavy losses, the Ukrainian army had thrown all its forces into battle to repel the enemy. If the vice has relaxed, the bombing has never stopped. The deadliest, on March 29, hit the regional administration building and killed 37 people, including many municipal employees. Economically, the city is asphyxiated. The port, one of the most important in Ukraine, is still subject to the Russian blockade and the shipyards are stopped. The yacht club closed and the teenagers took over the premises, ignoring the “No swimming” sign. But the center remains lively and restaurants open, frequented mainly by retired soldiers like Mykola, 33, of Kherson, the occupied city where his family lives. “It’s sad to say, but people have started to get used to it, they try to continue living the same way,” says the soldier. – “Dangerous” – “Getting used to the bombing is dangerous. We have to keep going down to the shelters”, worries Valentyn Raïlan, a Red Cross volunteer who oversees the water distribution during the day and repairs the roof of his mother’s house at night. damaged by a blow. Regularly, air warning sirens sound in Mykolaiv, which had almost 500,000 inhabitants before the war. But no passer-by looks up. Dull explosions in the distance remind us that the first line is only about twenty kilometers away. But it is above all at night that the city is hit: short bombardments, at set times, which can hit anywhere. Two universities were hit in July. Then, on August 1, a medical center and warehouse where 100 tons of food were burned, according to Governor Vitali Kim. The Petro Moguyla University of the Black Sea, the city’s most famous, was targeted twice on August 17 and 19, but that didn’t stop the rector from announcing that the start of the school year would go as planned. in September. It was also one of these night strikes, on July 31, that killed the grain magnate Oleksiï Vadatoursky and his wife in his house. Andriï, a 40-year-old unemployed dock worker who just wants to name him, will never get used to it. On April 4, his father was killed in the street along with 11 other people. The NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF), whose team was present by chance that day, said they found “evidence that could suggest the use of cluster bombs”. “It’s really difficult. You may have seen films or documentaries but when you hear the sound of an explosion, you hear the sirens or the collapse of a roof, it’s another thing, it’s scary,” confides Andriï in a muffled voice. “People are suffering, the city is suffering and Ukraine is suffering. Nobody expected it. But we are resisting.” bur-tbm / ant / emd

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