Stay or go? Kramatorsk residents face tough choice

STORY: To repair their homes or to leave for areas less affected by shelling.

That's the dilemma facing resident's of Kramatorsk, which lies in the heart of Ukrainian-held Donbas.

Iryna, a 74-year-old pensioner, said she has been told to leave the home she built in a city that's now less then 12 miles from the nearest frontline.

"I worked hard in a factory all my life. It took us 10 years to build this house, we gathered the construction materials... And now I should skip it all. We're told to leave. But where to? I stand by Ukraine, I love Ukraine, but there is no other place than here where I'm needed."

A Russian shell hit the street in front of her house early Friday morning (August 12), partially destroying the roof and windows of Iryna's house.

"We actually thought that once we've built our house, we'll live in it. And now what, how do we retire? There is almost no life ahead. Everything is destroyed. The windows are gone, the roof on one side is gone. When it rains everything will be wet inside. What now? We don't have the resources to leave. Where would we go? I'm old and sick."

Ukraine aims to evacuate two thirds of residents from areas it controls in the eastern battleground region of Donetsk before winter, according to deputy prime minister Irina Vereshchuk.

This is partly out of concern people won't be able to stay warm amid war-damaged infrastructure.

Although the authorities describe the evacuation as "mandatory," residents can opt out by declaring their intention to stay.