Salad, bread… And then soup!“: Yekaterina reveals the contents of her little pink plastic bag. There are portions for three ppeople. Like every midday or almost, for a month, she comes to collect a hot meal, on this faded sidewalk of Ouman. We’ve been living in the hotel for weeks, so we can’t cook anything“, she breathes.

>> War in Ukraine: follow the evolution of the situation live

In Ukraine, while the Russian offensive in the east of the country seems to be stalling, especially around Kharkiv, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are still waiting to be able to return home. It is in this city located in the heart of the country that thousands of civilians find themselves somewhat by chance, far from the fighting.

Meals are prepared in the kitchen of the nearby synagogue.  Uman is one of the very last Jewish centers in Ukraine.  (AGATHE MAHUET / RADIO FRANCE)

Meals are prepared in the kitchen of the nearby synagogue.  Uman is one of the very last Jewish centers in Ukraine.  (AGATHE MAHUET / RADIO FRANCE)

These dishes are prepared in the kitchens of the nearby synagogue, from which come out 300 meals a day. Uman is one of the last Jewish homes in Ukraine and the community is working to house, feed and help these displaced eastern Ukrainians.

Spassiba“, “thank you” in French, “We are very grateful to be welcomed in this way.“, repeats Irina, Russian-speaking, who fled her city bombed from Kramatorsk, 600 km away. It was here, in Ouman, that she stumbled upon Yekaterina, his former co-worker. “We ended up there, it was not planned! It’s really a crossroads, this city, with people from Mariupol, from Kharkiv, too… We exchange the latest news, we help each other… Sometimes just a few words, to support each other“.

Yekaterina and Irina, former colleagues in Kramatorsk, found themselves by chance 600 km further west, in the crossroads city of Uman, in the heart of Ukraine.  (AGATHE MAHUET / RADIO FRANCE)

Yekaterina and Irina, former colleagues in Kramatorsk, found themselves by chance 600 km further west, in the crossroads city of Uman, in the heart of Ukraine.  (AGATHE MAHUET / RADIO FRANCE)

Ouman, a medium-sized city, in the heart of Ukraine, with 85,000 inhabitants… and thousands of refugees now. Almost everyone who has taken the road to the West has at least been there. “But we hope to return home soon!“, laugh Irina and Yekaterinawho are in a hurry: for the war to stop, to leave this crossroads city for the displaced.

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