Photos: Bucha residents picking up the pieces of shattered lives

When Bucha, a town on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, became a theatre of fierce fighting and shelling, most of its 30,000 residents left.

But some people stayed because they could not or chose not to leave their homes. Among the remaining residents, there are many elderly, sick and homeless people.

Today, life is returning, the streets are being cleaned from the debris of destruction and unexploded ordnance, and every day the town looks more like its former self.

But people who live here say the horrors they have been through are not likely to go away. “We have all changed. Young people turned old,” said Natalia, 68, who remained in Bucha with her husband after their children and grandchildren went abroad.

More people are out in the streets cleaning courtyards in front of their apartment buildings and cooking outside on open fires, as gas and electricity have not yet been restored.

They look calm, but some break into tears when they recount the experience of the past weeks. “The level of destruction is impressive after just a few weeks of hostilities,” said Dominik Stillhart, director of operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who visited Bucha and Irpin last week.

“But it is the conversations with the residents that made me realise how deep, painful and long-lasting the scars from the violence will be.”

People are deeply traumatised by death and destruction they have seen so close. Conflict is uprooting lives in Ukraine, with civilians bearing the brunt of intense fighting.

This photo essay was provided by ICRC