An employee sorts parcels in a warehouse of the Nova Poshta courier company on the northern outskirts of the Ukrainian city of Lviv on Friday. AFP
There is war raging in Ukraine but the postmasters in the western city of Lviv promise to keep making deliveries.
Parcels may be rattled on roads pockmarked by shell blasts, delayed at sandbag checkpoints, and held static during overnight curfews pierced by wailing air raid sirens. But Volodymyr Shved and Anatoliy Goretsky - who manage the Nova Poshta courier company in Lviv - insist parcels will arrive at their destination.
"The only places we aren't working is where the bombs are falling, at the moment they're falling," said 39-year-old Shved. "When the alarms go off we stop, but when they are silent we go back to work."
Since Russia invaded Ukraine three weeks ago the pro-Western country has moved onto a war footing. Thousands of soldiers have been mobilised and cities have been fortified on the orders of President Volodymyr Zelensky, who addresses the nation in military fatigues.
Employees operate freight-pushing buggies to pile humanitarian aid at a warehouse in Lviv. AFP
The "home front" of Ukraine has also been transformed, as civilian life pivots to buttress the war effort and usher aid to refugees fleeing conflict zones. Lviv, which is located 70 kilometres from the border with Poland, was initially largely spared military strikes from Russian forces.
But the cavernous Nova Poshta warehouse on the northern outskirts has nevertheless been transformed by the demands of war. The workforce has slimmed by more than half.
Just 22 work here with most of the rest called up for combat. The hub once sorted one million parcels a day, mainly for online shoppers. Now the 100,000 daily parcels are mostly food, medicine and clothing - care packages criss-crossing conflict-riven Ukraine.
A cursory glance at rusted red cargo trolleys reveals pasta noodles and military boots nestled among anonymous cardboard packages. Ninety mechanised lines hurl them along a conveyor belt through a yawning red scanner, sorting them for onward travel. Shved said the only day this process paused was Feb.24 - when Russia invaded - as a grip of panic passed across Ukraine.
"Over the next few days we realised the company is one of the few that can keep people united," he said. "That's why we decided to regroup." Now the postal trucks are guided by a backroom team mapping "safe routes to pass aside warfare," he explained. They account for infrastructure hobbled by Russian airstrikes and Ukrainian checkpoints manned by twitchy recruits. Nova Poshta once made deliveries anywhere in Ukraine within 24 hours. Now it takes between four and six days.
A generation of Ukrainians who knew of war only from history books and the stories of their grandparents has been forced to prepare to fight, and some are choosing to do it with the partners they were building their lives with only weeks ago.
On average, every day over the last 20 days in Ukraine, more than 70,000 children have become refugees," James Elder, spokesman for the UN children's agency UNICEF, told reporters in Geneva.
With schools closed, high demand for volunteer work, and the absence of men, women's unpaid care burden has increased significantly.
About 29,000 nurses will be eligible for the payout, including foreign nurses who have worked in the country for four years, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said. "We want to support our nurses to do a good job," Ong said.
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