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Bengal students face food, water scarcity in war-torn Kyiv

In absence of public transport, they walked to their nearest supermarket during the three-hour window when it was open and queued up outside

Monalisa Chaudhuri | Published 27.02.22, 02:32 AM
The queue outside a supermarket in Kyiv on Saturday.

The queue outside a supermarket in Kyiv on Saturday.

Photograph sent by Brijesh Ghosh

In war-torn Kyiv, food and water are increasingly scarce.

Over and above the fear of being bombed, pangs of hunger have started biting the survivors. After a 40-minute queue in front of a supermarket, a group of students from Bengal managed to lay their hands on some rice and eggs on Saturday.


“The other shelves were all empty,” said Brijesh Ghosh from Barasat, who is a fourth-year student in Kyiv Medical University.

In the wait outside the supermarket, Ghosh and his friends were scared that the person standing ahead of them would be the last to be allowed in. They were lucky and managed to go in. Many others were not.

At their hostel, water is now limited.

In the absence of any public transport, the students walked to their nearest supermarket on Saturday during the three-hour window when it was open and queued up outside. There were other students and many people from the neighbourhood, too.

“The food we could buy today would last for the next three-four days. We have no clue what will happen after that if the store is not refilled. There is already a shortage of water. The five-litre jars are exhausted. We have returned without water today,” Ghosh said.

The students were forced to draw water from their university reservoir.

“But there is no guarantee that the reservoir will be refilled tomorrow. The guard could not give us any guarantee about water,” said Arkaprabha Baidya, who is from Raidighi in South 24-Parganas.

The boys who have been moving in and out of the underground bomb shelter are banking on power supply to cook their food. One of them said they would be able to boil the rice and eggs on their induction plate only if there is electricity in the building.

“Otherwise, we will have to eat only biscuits and fruits. Yesterday, the power supply was off. We are scared it may go again any moment,” he said.

Fearing power cuts, the boys have been charging their power-banks and mobile phones and rationing the use of phones and Wifi so they can stay connected even if the electric supply fails.

The boys are returning to their hostel rooms once in a while but the air raid sirens are forcing them to go back to the bomb shelter in a parking lot opposite the hostel.

Baidya said Friday night was the second consecutive night they spent at the basement when the temperature was below freezing.

“We returned to our hostel at 8pm (Kyiv time) and just lay down when the siren went off again and the guard came knocking at the door. We had to run to the basement. It was very cold there and we could not sleep for a minute, partly because of the cold and partly because of the reverberations in the basement because of the bombings outside,” Baidya said.

Ghosh and his friends who had returned to Ukraine only a month ago to attend in-person classes, have been stranded in the country’s capital Kyiv.

“We are waiting for things to calm down. This place is around 600km from the Poland border and we cannot travel on our own. Till any help reaches us, we have decided to stay put. But now, with the food supply depleting, I am not sure how long we will be able to survive like this,” Ghosh said.

Last updated on 27.02.22, 02:32 AM

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