3/13/2023 – Children of war and “Bakhmut Syndrome”

Today’s picture – 6-year-old Arina is saying goodbye to her grandmother before evacuating from Bakhmut. Photo by Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters

From Ira Kapitonova in Kyiv (Day 382):

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Psalm 82:3-4

Last week, the Ukrainian government approved the mandatory evacuation mechanism, which would allow the evacuation of children from the active combat zone despite their parents’ will. Such legal enforcement seems to go against democratic norms. However, the conditions Russia has created in Ukraine are far from normal.

The volunteers who “hunt down” people in the war zone to evacuate them to safety (Save Ukraine fund is one of such initiatives) came up with the term “Bakhmut syndrome” to describe the state of people in that area. Those people live in unsanitary conditions for weeks, spending most of the time in cellars with a limited food supply. They lose their teeth and hair because of malnutrition and poor living conditions. However, they refuse to evacuate. Some of them are victims of Russian propaganda – they believe that Ukrainians would do horrible things to them and their children or demand money for evacuation. Some of those people have never been outside of their region and are too afraid of the unknown now. Some have disabled relatives and don’t want to burden anyone, hoping to wait it out in the “safety” of their home. The war reduces your needs and expectations, so the parents who stay in the war zone with their children genuinely believe they are good parents because their child survived another day.

The volunteers come daily to persuade people to evacuate. Sometimes they would arrange everything and come to pick up a family only to find out that a family changed their mind, or is hiding from them in a different shelter, or has been taken to Russia, or has been killed.

The volunteers say that the psychics of the children in the war zone go into this special mode, so the children are not scared and can casually discuss different war events or weapons, but the trauma comes up once they are evacuated to a safe location.

This new regulation allows the police to demand that families with children evacuate (at least one of the parents is required to go with the child). The parents are notified that they will be charged with neglect if they fail to evacuate. If the parents persist, the police can detain the parent and take the child to safety.

It is not an easy solution, but it’s something that has to be done. Bakhmut is the only city that falls into the category of enforced evacuation. Two weeks ago, the entrance to the town was restricted because of the constant danger for civilians. According to government statistics, 38 children remained in Bakhmut at the time. Kostiantynivka and Chasiv Yar are two more towns in the Bakhmut area. Two weeks ago, about 500 children remained there. With this new regulation, there is hope that those children will be rescued before the hostilities move there.

Please, pray for the children of Ukraine – those in the occupied territories, those in the active combat zone, those in evacuation, those forcefully deported to Russia, those separated from their parents, those taking refuge abroad, those traumatized, those trying to process this horrible wickedness, those who have lost their parents, those missing their homes, those deprived of their basic needs, those who have been wounded, and all those who are waiting for Ukraine’s victory and pray for it every day.

One response to “3/13/2023 – Children of war and “Bakhmut Syndrome””

  1. Jesus, You who said,” Let the little children come to Me,” Please open the hearts of these parents to bring them to safety.


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