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The daily lives of Ukrainians are hard and every pictur...

World

GUEST PHOTO ESSAY

The daily lives of Ukrainians are hard and every picture is worth a thousand terrible words

This photo was taken a few days ago in Kharkiv, which is shelled by Russians every day. At about 9.30am, Russians bombed a bus stop in Kharkiv. One of the three civilians killed was a 13-year-old boy. Here his devastated father is sitting on the ground, holding his son's hand. He sat there for two hours, holding his son's hand and praying. Later a policewoman knelt beside the father and read to his son for the last time. (Photo: EPA-EFE / SERGEY KOZLOV)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words for a reason. According to the latest statistics, we remember about 10% of the information we hear or read, but accompanied by images, that percentage immediately climbs to 65%. From the beginning of Russia’s horrific unprovoked offensive on our nation, we’ve seen image after image that has scarred us for life. And those of us who see the pictures and are not in them are, in fact, the lucky ones.

Most of the images of Russia’s attacks on our nation are deleted from social media, blocked, or censored as “shocking content”. Yes, it is most definitely shocking, and we are fully aware of how shocking they are as they reflect the daily life of any Ukrainian.

I’m not going to share the most horrific photos with you today, but I want to share those that touched my life so much so that a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of them. I want to share them with you so you would have a chance to clearly see that we are in a fight for our lives with absolute evil. And they aren’t just trying to destroy us, they will bring famine and death anywhere they can just to lift sanctions.

Yesterday representatives from Ukraine, UN, Turkey and Russia finally signed an agreement on the resumption of grain exports from ports in Odesa. An agreement set to eliminate the frightening perspective of upcoming famine round the world, and, especially on the African continent. This agreement was called ‘unprecedented’ and a ‘beacon of hope for the world that desperately needs it’ – as stated by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The agreement was supposed to help us finally get the green light for grain export for 120 days without Russia shelling the port. In this photo, not even a full day later, you can see the aftermath of the Russian bombing of the same ports that are supposed to be used to export the grain for the next three months. Agreements with Russia aren’t worth the paper they are written on. (Photo: Suspilne TV, Odessa)
On the night of 28 of June, Russian terrorists hit Mykolaiv and adjacent towns with 11 missiles. Some of them were shut down by our soldiers, but, those that weren’t, hit homes of civilians. One of those homes was in Ochakiv, a small town 60 kilometres from Mykolaiv, where eight-year-old Eva lived. Eva was asleep when a Russian missile struck her home. She died under the rubble. This is little Eva’s last photo. This is what Russia’s ‘demilitarisation’ and ‘de-Nazification’ looks like. We call it genocide. (Photo: Family archive)
When the Russians retreated from areas around Kyiv, the war crimes committed in Bucha, Irpin, and Borodyanka came to light. This was a photo of a cemetery in Irpin. All of the graves you see in this photo were new. These were people found on the streets, in their homes, or thrown into mass graves. All of them were brutally tortured and killed. (Photo: New York Times)
This is Oksana Balandina. She was a nurse in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, a mom of two young children. She lost both of her legs and a hand when a Russian bomb exploded while she was walking home one day in early May. (Photo: Video screenshot)
People look over the wreckage after a missile stuck a shopping mall on 3 July 2022 in Sloviansk, Ukraine. The attack was one of many in the city early Sunday afternoon. The attacks, which targeted residential neighbourhoods, destroyed homes and left at least six people dead and 15 injured. (Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images)
Policemen inspect the scene after shelling hit the premises of the National University of Urban Economy in Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, 23 July 2022. Kharkiv and surrounding areas have been the target of heavy shelling since February 2022, when Russian troops entered Ukraine starting a conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Sergey Kozlov)
These are the photos of Russians shelling Ukrainian crops. This is what is now going on, this is our everyday fight to save our wheat ready for harvest. Every time you hear someone from Russia claiming that they aren’t responsible for famine around the world and crazy rising prices, remember these photos of Russian missiles, and planes specifically bombing our grain harvest. (Photo: Suppiled)

These are photos from last week. Russia bombed the parking lot near a concert hall and a mall in Vinnytsia. Among 20 people killed that day, there were three kids. This is the last photo of once very happy little four-year-old princess Lisa. She was with her mom on her last day. Lisa’s mom lost her leg from the explosion and is now in the hospital. (Photo: Supplied)
Seven-year-old Roman came to Vinnytsia that day to see his grandmother. This little angel has 45% exterior and 35% interior burns. We don’t know if he is going to make it.
Police try to calm a woman near the body of her husband after a Russian rocket strike hit a bus stop near a market in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 21 July 2022. At least three people were killed and 23 injured in the attack, according to the Kharkiv’s Regional Prosecutor’s Office. Kharkiv and surrounding areas have been the target of heavy shelling since February 2022, when Russian troops entered Ukraine starting a conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. (Photo: EPA-EFE / SERGEY KOZLOV) 
I’m gutted every time I think of this photo. You can see that it’s a group of young people with small luggage, indicating they were trying to flee occupied Irpin. I’m so sorry to say we have thousands of photos just like this one. Most of which I won’t dare to share because it takes a toll on any normal person capable of even a bit of empathy. Russians killed everyone they came across, every civilian they could. If they had time, they tortured and then killed them. Most of the bodies in the cities near Kyiv were found with their hands tied behind their backs and signs of torture. We won’t know how many Ukrainian civilians Russians slaughtered until we free our land. And even then it’ll be very hard to do… We will be fighting to punish every single one of the war criminal that did this to our innocent people. (Photo: Lindsey Addario)
This is a photo of an 86-year-old paralysed grandma taken by rescuers, who came to her house in Makariv, where she lives with her daughter. Their house was destroyed after one of Russia’s shelling of the village. Volunteers are now working on rebuilding the house before winter comes. (Photo: Angelina_simchuk)

Liubov Abravitova is the Ambassador of Ukraine to South Africa.

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