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Ukrainian Woman, 98, Walks 10 Km Amid Shelling to Flee Russians

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In a heart-wrenching video shared by Ukraine's police on social media this Monday, the resilience of Lidia Stepanivna, a 98-year-old Ukrainian woman, captured global attention. Stepanivna recounted her harrowing journey of walking 10 kilometers (6 miles) amidst shelling, braving hunger, thirst, and physical exhaustion, as she fled her hometown of Ocheretyne in Donetsk, now under Russian occupation, in a desperate bid to reach areas controlled by Kyiv.

In the video, Stepanivna, seated on a bed in a shelter, clad in an oversized coat and a scarf tightly secured around her head, gripping a wooden stick for support, shared her ordeal. Despite enduring numerous falls and enduring the unforgiving elements, she credited her unwavering "character" for keeping her going, a testament to her remarkable strength and determination.

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Having survived the horrors of World War Two, Stepanivna expressed the stark contrast between the wars, describing the devastation inflicted by Russia's aggression upon her homeland. "Houses are burning, and trees are being uprooted," she lamented, underscoring the indiscriminate destruction wrought by the ongoing conflict.

Ukraine's interior ministry, in a statement on its website, disclosed that Stepanivna was discovered by Ukrainian military personnel in the evening and subsequently handed over to the police, who facilitated her transfer to a shelter designated for evacuees. Efforts are underway by law enforcement officers to locate her relatives, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the turmoil.

The exact timeline of Stepanivna's discovery remains unclear, yet her plight serves as a poignant reminder of the profound human cost inflicted by the protracted conflict. With the war entering its third year, the toll continues to mount, claiming thousands of lives, devastating communities, and uprooting millions from their homes, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the future of Ukraine.

April 30, 2024 1:10 p.m. 521

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