No longer hot momentarily, it is a frozen conflict whose violence erupts every now and then with small arms fire from both sides.
In Eastern Ukraine the start of the school year holds dread instead of excitement. Toretsk, the Soviet-era mining town in Ukraine’s Donbas region is in the war front, in the never-ending conflict between Ukrainian government forces and Russian backed and Russian inspired rebel forces. The children of School No. 9, or at least their school, are caught in the middle. Toretsk is near rebel-controlled Horlivka. It is a drab town held by government forces; hence it is right in the middle of the conflict zone between government and rebel forces.
There was supposed to be a new cease-fire agreement according to the second Minsk agreement, but the war front is anything but peaceful or quiet – mortars explode, gunfire boom, and people die, both soldiers and civilians on either side – after Minsk 2 had been agreed upon and signed between Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel; though the conflict is supposed to be a civil war between the rebels in Eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and the Ukrainian government.
Last September (September 2016) the warring sides agreed on a “back-to-school” ceasefire to enable school-children return to school
But nobody knows if the truce will hold, or if the children will take flight again or be mown down when the unending hostilities of war begin anew in the region. It has happened before – in Slovyansk , Eastern Ukraine; and “The children of School No. 12 endured violence and witnessed things no child should have to see: shellings, shootings, death”; according to Unicef. Human rights watch reported in 2016 that many schools were attacked and destroyed in the war, ostensibly because the schools were used by both sides in the conflict for military purposes. Schools, like places of worship ought to be free from attack in military conflicts because schools are second homes to our most vulnerable citizens – children – but when adult anger or greed for power turns into conflict, children’s lives become less important to warring combatants.
Yes, a shaky ceasefire allowed school children to return to school in Eastern Ukraine, but for how long will the children be allowed to hope for a brighter future by studying, so that they can become useful citizens, and aid their country develop? Will the combatants in Donbas respect the sanctity of life for the children; and stop rendering the children’s future doubtful, which is what happens in every conflict zone? These are questions which only the combatants can answer; and they must answer these questions and more; at least for the sake of their children and ours; who need stable environments to attain basic education so necessary in the development of every country on earth.
BBC News. February 12, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31436513
Human rights Watch. February 11, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/02/11/ukraine-attacks-military-use-schools
The Telegraph. September 4, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/04/ukraines-uneasy-back-to-school-ceasefire-begins-on-eastern-front/
Unicef connect. May 26, 2016. Retrieved from https://blogs.unicef.org/blog/a-school-unlike-any-other-in-eastern-ukraine/