Life Slowly Returns to a Destroyed Village in Southern Ukraine
20 September 2023
On a hot sunny day in early August, Ivan, a burly retired welder in his fifties, stood in front of his ruined house in Posad-Pokrovske, Kherson region.
“Blackberries grew in front of my house and local children constantly ate them. Now the blackberries are drying up and no one touches them. This makes me very sad,” he said during an interview with UN human rights monitors.
As invading Russian troops rolled into Ukraine’s south-eastern Kherson region in the spring of 2022, Ivan’s spacious two-story house took several direct hits. One rocket landed in the kitchen while at least three more struck the back yard, entirely destroying the pear orchard that he had proudly planted and cared for.
“I built the house with my own hands and fixed everything around it,” he recalled. “I welded it myself,” he pointed to the shrapnel-ridden iron sheet fence, “and I thought that if not for several generations, then it would definitely last for my lifetime. But you see how it turned out.”
Nearly every building in Posad-Pokrovske was damaged; the school and the kindergarten lie in ruins. Yet despite the widespread destruction, Ivan says that families have started to come back, many of them with small children: “This is their home.”
According to UN human rights monitors, the village saw intense fighting, resulting in an exceptionally high level of destruction. On a recent visit, UN staff saw that the site where the school once stood was cleared of rubble in preparation for a new construction. There were other signs that rebuilding had started in Posad-Pokrovske, even though it was not immediately clear how many residents have returned so far.
Documenting destruction of civilian infrastructure is one of the tasks of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine which also monitors other violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. The latest finding on this topic is included in the periodic report on the human rights situation issued in March 2023. Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine launched in February 2022 has had a devastating effect on virtually all aspects of human rights across Ukraine with civilians like Ivan and other residents of Posad-Pokrovske often paying the highest price.
The work of human rights officers from the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine is to speak with victims and witnesses and document their stories. These testimonies form the basis of our regular reports that are presented to decision-makers and the public. The next periodic report on the human rights situation in Ukraine, covering the 6-month period, will be released in early October.
UN entities involved in this initiative
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights