Mother forced to flee fighting faces cancer battle

Publié: 1 avril 2016 14:47 CET

By Nichola Jones, IFRC

Almost two years ago, 41-year-old Tatyana Perevozhchikova, was on a summer holiday with her husband Alexandr and her 17-year-old son Mikhail in Russia, when fighting flared in their home town of Donetsk, Ukraine.

“We were away and having a great holiday when the violence started - some relatives of ours in Belarus told us to come here for a while until things calmed down,” she said.

“We said we’d go to Belarus for a month while the situation settled down in Donetsk.  But it didn’t – all this time later and we’re still here, living no life.”

The family is among 150,000 people forced to flee eastern Ukraine and find safety in neighbouring Belarus. The Perevozhchikovas have now found themselves trapped in a paralyzing cycle of poverty.

Alexandr, 32, is a construction worker but as a result of the sharp economic slump in neighbouring Russia, employment is drying up.  He hasn’t had a fulltime job for six months. Instead he is picking up half a day’s work here and there as a labourer. Tatyana can’t work.  She is battling cancer.

“I had a cancerous tumour removed in 2011 and since then, I have been undergoing tests and treatment.

“Fortunately, the medication I am on at the moment is not too expensive so I have relatives who can help me.  But I need to go and see an oncologist in Minsk and that costs money we don’t have.”

Tatyana has been receiving food support from the Belarus Red Cross and is among the people on its priority list for financial support which will enable her to access the treatment she needs.  The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is running an emergency appeal to urgently raise more than 740,000 Swiss francs to support 10,000 people from the Ukraine, forced to live in Belarus.

The IFRC’s head of office in Belarus, Sergei Boltrushevich, said: “Sadly, Tatyana’s case is typical of many people who have had to flee the Ukraine.

“Their lives have been turned upside down and every day is a grim struggle for survival – the Red Cross is striving to support these families but we desperately need the funds to do so, funds that will give people like Tatyana access to the medical treatment and basic supplies she needs for her and her family.”

The couple worked fulltime in the Ukraine – Tatyana as a nurse and Alexandr in construction.  They also ran their own re-upholstery business.

“We had a good life, a comfortable life – we owned a home, Mikhail was happy at school, we had enough money to go on holidays, we were content.

“It’s all gone now.”