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Ukrainians return to former frontline village

12/08/2022 | 05:51pm EST

STORY: This is what's left of Oleksandr Hupalo's home.

"There was hell in here," he says.

He's among a small group of Ukrainians who have returned to Posad-Pokrovske - a village in Kherson.

It was once the war's front line.

Liudmyla Hupalo says over 3,000 people used to live here.

Less than 200 have come back.

"Some come, repair their house and leave. The ones that still have something to save, they save it. The ones that have nothing to save and have no place to live, they don't come back. My parents' house is gone, completely ruined. There is some roof left above my house, but it is still scary to look at."

When Russian forces advanced earlier this year, people fled in a mass westward exodus.

Over the past month -- since Ukraine's army recaptured the provincial capital and surrounding territory -- people have been slowly returning to homes damaged or reduced to rubble by Russian shells.

Nearby, farmer Vasyl Oliinyk surveys his property.

He says Russian forces destroyed his farming equipment -- and his livelihood.

"I have no idea what to do, what to begin with. You see with your own eyes - everything is destroyed."

Back at home, he fires up one of the wood stoves sent in to help villagers cope with the bitter cold.

But it's still a far cry from a return to normal.


ę Reuters 2022
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