烏克蘭戰爭。讓死者復活的人

2週前
烏克蘭戰爭。讓死者復活的人

我們見到他們的那天,他們正在烏克蘭東部一個最近被解放的地區。阿圖爾說,他們的任務是確保在戰場上不遺留任何屍體。地面上布滿了瓦礫、廢棄的戰壕和深深的彈孔。他們被告知,在這個世界末日般的破壞現場,有幾具屍體躺在某個地方。

遠處仍有戰鬥的聲音。阿圖爾說,他們很清楚自己的工作很危險,但認為這種風險是合理的,"因為最重要的是把死者從這場可怕的戰爭中救出來"。

他們打開白色麵包車的車門,上面標有一個紅叉和數字200--運送死亡士兵的軍事代碼。當他們打開後門時,有一股令人作嘔的死亡氣息,並看到地板上有當天早些時候收回的屍體的蛆蟲。

阿圖爾和德尼斯被告知附近還有幾具屍體,但他們現在必須找到位置。Denys發射了一架裝有攝像頭的小型無人機來偵察這個地區。他們不僅要尋找屍體,還要尋找地雷的跡象。他們團隊中的一個人最近被地雷炸傷。這是一個持續的危險。

前一天,一名烏克蘭軍事工程師告訴我,他認為在最近解放的烏克蘭東部地區有大約10萬枚地雷。要清除它們需要很長的時間。這位工程師說,根據經驗,一年的戰鬥相當於五年的排雷。

在無人機飛行了大約20分鐘後,阿圖爾和丹尼斯認為他們已經確定了一個可能的地點。那是一個被炸毀的建築,旁邊是一個被毀壞的鐵路側線。他們戴上頭盔和防彈衣,小心翼翼地穿過廢墟。

在倒塌的建築中,有三具燒焦的屍體。起初,很難從燒毀的木材中分辨出人類遺骸。慢慢地,阿圖爾和丹尼斯開始識別骨頭。他們仔細地梳理剩下的東西--尋找任何可識別的跡象。

小塊的陶瓷護身板也告訴他們這三個人是為俄羅斯而戰。他們還從地上找到了一些其他個人物品,包括一副眼鏡。每一件都被拍了照,放在一邊。它們將與遺體一起被送回--被小心翼翼地放入屍袋,然後裝入他們的卡車。

當他們找回俄羅斯的死者時,他說:"有一項明確的諒解,他們將與我們的死者交換,我們的死者將有尊嚴地埋葬在烏克蘭。是紅十字會促成了國家之間的交換。

在過去一年裡,他們經歷的死亡多於生命。阿圖爾承認,這最終會對他們的情感狀態造成影響。但他補充說:"我明白,我們做得很好,這讓我有點動力,讓我相信戰爭很快就會結束。"


The day we meet them they're in a recently liberated area in eastern Ukraine. Artur says their task is to ensure that no dead body is left behind on the battlefield. The ground is scarred with rubble, abandoned trenches and deep shell holes. They've been told there are several bodies lying somewhere in this scene of apocalyptic devastation.

There's still the sound of fighting in the distance. Artur says they're well aware their job is dangerous, but considers the risks justified "because the most important thing is to take out the dead from this terrible war".

They open the door of their white van, marked with a red cross and the number 200 - the military code for transporting dead soldiers. There's a sickly smell of death when they open the back door, and the sight of maggots on the floor from bodies retrieved earlier in the day.

Artur and Denys have been told there are several more bodies nearby, but they now have to find the location. Denys launches a small drone fitted with a camera to scout the area. They're not just looking for the bodies, but also for signs of mines. One of their team was recently injured by one. It's a constant hazard.

The day before, a Ukrainian military engineer tells me that he thinks there are around 100,000 mines in the recently liberated areas of Eastern Ukraine. It'll take a long time to clear them. The engineer says that, as a rule of thumb, one year of fighting equates to five years of de-mining.

After flying the drone for about 20 minutes, Artur and Denys think they've identified a likely location. It's a bombed out building next to a destroyed railway siding. They put their helmets and body armour on and make their way carefully through the rubble.

Inside the collapsed structure there are the charred remains of three bodies. At first it's hard to distinguish the human remains from the burnt-out timbers. Slowly Artur and Denys begin to identify bones. They carefully comb through what's left - looking for any signs of identification.

Small pieces of ceramic body armour plates also tell them these three men were fighting for Russia. There are a few other personal items they recover from the ground including a pair of spectacles. Each is photographed and placed to the side. They will be returned along with the human remains - carefully placed into body bags which are then loaded into their truck.

When they recover Russia's dead he says "there is a clear understanding that they will be exchanged for our deceased and our deceased will be buried with dignity in Ukraine". It's the Red Cross who facilitates the exchanges between countries.

They've experienced more death than life over the past year. Artur accepts it will eventually take a toll on their emotional state. But he adds, "I understand that we are doing a good job and this motivates me a little and gives me faith that the war will end soon."

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