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Home News Kiev photo exhibit honours people missing in war-torn east

Kiev photo exhibit honours people missing in war-torn east

Published on 30/08/2016

A neglected aspect of the conflict in Ukraine was in the spotlight Tuesday as a photo exhibition opened in Kiev honouring those who have disappeared on both sides of the front.

Portraits of the missing people’s family members posing in places they go to think of their loved ones are on display on a square in the Ukrainian capital as part of an exhibit organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The Red Cross told AFP that at least 1,000 people have gone missing in eastern Ukraine since fighting between government forces and pro-Russian insurgents erupted in April 2014.

More than 9,500 people have died and two million forced from their homes in two major industrial regions in the east that have been partially controlled by rebels for more than two years.

Kiev resident Iryna Malysheva is looking for her 29-year-old brother Roman Bilenkyi, a volunteer in Ukraine’s ultranationalist Azov battalion.

His whereabouts have been unknown since August 2014, following bloody clashes in the city of Ilovaisk that saw some 400 Ukrainian soldiers killed and more than 150 reported missing.

“There have been times when our mother said she that she will go and look for him herself,” Malysheva told AFP.

“But it’s so dangerous. There’s a chance you will never come back.”

The organisers have refused to identify which photographs are from which side of the front. The ICRC is currently working on some 500 missing person cases in eastern Ukraine.

Galyna Tereschenko is also looking for her brother Vasyl Grytsenko, who joined government forces at the start of the war.

The 39-year-old went missing after the battle for flashpoint town of Debaltseve in February 2015.

“There are a lot of people like us,” a teary Tereschenko said.

“We are hopeful. Or at least we want to know that he was really killed.”