I have a lot of time for BBC correspondent Fergal Keane and for how he covers the human aspect of war. The Irishman’s style is considerate and caring. Something very evident in this report above about his visit to the village of Pisky in eastern Ukraine.
Before the war between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels began, Pisky had a population of 3,000 people. Now, as the Ukraine crisis enters its second year, only 40 remain, and they’re mostly old or sick.
The village is near the Donetsk airport where, despite their being a nominal ceasefire in place, the war is ongoing. We heard the sound of artillery, mortars and gunfire in the distance. At night tracer bullets shoot upwards at aerial drones in the dark sky.
Keane stays overnight with Anatoliy and Svetlana Kosse, who’re both in their 60s. They’ve been together since they were 16 years old.
The couple grow fresh produce, which they share with others in the village. Anatoliy also looks after the beehives for those who have fled. They’re good-hearted country folk.
Often, they check on their 77-year-old neighbor Sonya, who looks after her severely disabled middle-aged son.
“The politicians broke the country into pieces, this poor Ukraine just broken into pieces,” says a distraught Sonya.
As Keane points out, there are strong bonds of love in the village.
“In war, you meet all types of people, but you are some of the nicest people I have ever met, and certainly the bravest,” Kean tells Anatoliy and Svetlan
The journalist named Fergal Keane
Fergal Keane’s career in journalism began in 1979, but he first came to my attention just over 20 years ago with his reporting on the horrors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Five years ago, he published Road of Bones: the Siege of Kohima 1944, a historical account of an epic battle that halted the little remembered Japanese invasion of India. See Keane talk about that battle in the video below: