Read caption Anastasiia and her family in their rebuilt home. Their house was bombed to the ground in 2014 and rebuilt it with support from the Norwegian Refugee Council. Photo: Anastasiya Karpilyanska/NRC

“Nobody expected that there would be a real war here”

Anastasiya Karpilyanska|Published 13. Jul 2017
Anastasiia Pavlenko, 28, and her family were only going to leave their house for a month to escape the sudden war breaking out around them. Yet, it took more than two years to return home.

Together with her husband Serhii, Anastaiia spent all the money they had on their house in Stanytsia Lunanska in eastern Ukraine. But shortly after they moved in to their new home, war broke out and turned their lives upside down.

“We had to flee our home, as it was too dangerous to stay,” Anastasiia recalls.

Protracted vacation

The war came out of nowhere for residents in the quiet village. “It seemed peaceful. But, in the summer of 2014, an air strike took place in our town, close to our parentsˈ house,” she recounts.

The next day, Anastasiia and her husband packed their bags and travelled to the Black Sea. Here, they hoped to wait until it was safe to return to their home. But as time went by, the couple was further displaced to Rostov, in southern Russia, where they had family they could stay with. They ended up displaced for a total of two years.

This house was the only property we had. We were really eager to repair it, whatever it would take.
Anastasiia Pavlenko, 28, was displaced for two years due to war in Ukraine.

Long-awaited assistance

Anastasiia’s parents, who remained in their hometown, turned to humanitarian organisations for help.

“This house was the only property we had. We were really eager to repair it, whatever it would take. The Norwegian Refugee Council provided us with construction materials and cash to hire workers,” says Anastasiia. 


Read caption Anastasiia's husband Serhii reuilt their house in four months. Photo: Anastasiya Karpilyanska /NRC


Moving in with a growing family

After four months, the house was completely rebuilt. The family celebrated New Year’s Eve 2017 in their new home, with their new born daughter Aleksandra.  

But as the war in Eastern Ukraine continues, the family still feel unsafe.

“Almost every evening we hear sounds of artillery. In the daytime, we live normal lives and look after our fruits and vegetables. My son goes to kindergarten, and my husband works with the local emergency rescue services. We want to think the war will be over soon,” says Anastasiia. 

Facts and figures


  • Armed conflict in eastern Ukraine has entered its fourth year. It has claimed the lives of 10,090 people, including 2,777 civilians; 23,966 have been injured. 
  • 4.4 million people have been affected by the conflict, of whom some 3.8 million still require humanitarian assistance.
  • Those deemed to be of most concern are civilians living along both sides of the front-line, the so-called “contact line.”
  • Some 1,59 million people are registered as internally displaced.
  • Widespread protection concerns prevail, as legislative and bureaucratic impediments deprive many people of access to social benefits, which, for many of them, is the only source of income to cover the basic cost of living.