Why is this playground in Kherson surprising?

21 June 2023 By Paul Martin

By Paul Martin in Kherson, Ukraine.

Pictures, they say in journalism, are worth a thousand words.

So look at this one that I snapped:

Well, one thing is obvious: there’s a bunker alongside the playground equipment. Its users need to duck into the shelter if they hear the wailing of an air-raid siren, like this one.

Rockets and missiles do strike the city with greater frequency than when it was occupied by the Russian forces for seven months from the start of the invasion of Ukraine. There was a short lull as massive overflows of water, caused by explosions set off on June 6 2023 by the Russians at a huge dam upstream, had the unintended side-effect of flooding artillery and rocket-positions close to the river on the left bank held by the Russians. By the middle of June however, Russian positions further inland on higher ground continued to launch their deadly missiles at the city they had been forced to abandon in mid-November 2022.

So that’s the first interesting thing about the photo. Look more closely. There is a missing element.

Children. There are no children in the playground — yet it’s taken around 10 a.m. on Sunday. So it’s not that the children are in school.

The reality is this: children in Kherson are conspicuous by their absence.

One schoolteacher, Alona, told Correspondent.World that just three of the 33 children in the class she taught are still living in Kherson. All the rest have gone. She still teaches around twenty children – but all of them, including the three in Kherson, are getting their lessons online.

Before the Russian invasion, Kherson had aorund 300,000 inhabitants. Now, after a harsh winter when at first electricity and water had been cut off by the retreating Russians, the city’s population has dwindled to less than half of that.

And children are paying the price.