As shelling continues in eastern Ukraine, a few dozen civilians have fashioned homes out of an abandoned bunker near Donetsk.
Their homes destroyed by the conflict and their families unable to care for them, the area’s poorest residents have lived in the Soviet-era shelter for more than two years. “It’s impossible to get comfortable, but it almost feels like home now,” said Valentina Maronova, one of the bunker’s inhabitants. “We help each other like one big family because we’ve been together for so long.”
Just a few miles away on the front lines, Ukrainian forces remain locked in trench warfare with Russian-backed separatists, who established the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in effort to break away from the EU-leaning government in Kiev. Attempted ceasefires have so far failed, and shelling begins every night around sunset.
When fighting began here in 2014, more than 300 people initially crammed into the shelter. Most have since moved on, leaving behind the elderly and a few young people who say they have nowhere else to go. As winter approaches, inhabitants shared sentiments of feeling both stuck and forgotten in a conflict with no foreseeable end.