'The situation is dire': Ukrainians battle to rebuild liberated Izium amid $2bn in damages
Iolo Ap Dafydd in Izium

It could cost approximately $2 billion to rebuild the liberated city of Izium in northeast Ukraine.

Over the last year, 80 percent of the city has been damaged, according to the regional mayor.

Six months after Russian troops were forced to flee the city, locals and the authorities have been left to count the costs of the fighting there.

As well as new construction, the economy too will have to be rebuilt. Some businesses are starting to come back to life, but the road to repair is a long one.


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Mechanics are getting busier, as more vehicles need repairs during the winter months. 

Six months ago, almost everything in Anatoliy Zhidkov's business had been stripped and stolen, the occupation setting him back by 20 years.

"The situation is dire," he says. "We have suppliers who have been our partners for a long time. They met us and gave us goods to sell with deferred payments. That's how we've been helped."

However, Zhidkov says the exodus of people from the city, including many of his clients, has made it difficult to get his business on track. 

That's on top of the $400,000 in damages he estimates the conflict has cost him.

"But you need to work," he says. "We hope that they will start to come back." 

On Izium's main square, a hospital, school and the municipality offices were bombed. The local authority has the unenviable task of prioritizing what to do first, including creating work opportunities.

"I think we will need several billion dollars," says Valeriy Marchenko. "In addition to many multi-apartment residential buildings, the infrastructure is also destroyed, including primary and nursery schools, as well as heating stations."

New homes will also be needed across the region. On the city's outskirts, the village of Kamenka used to have 450 houses and twelve hundred residents. Just eleven people live there now.  

And for many, dark shadows from the days of occupation persist. Some locals say they were tortured by Russian secret service agents last year while the city was under Moscow's control. 

Beyond the emotional scars, the fighting to regain control of Izium caused severe structural damage, with much of the rubble yet to be removed to make way for new construction. 

Local authorities say the task is enormous. Hundreds of millions of dollars are needed to repair and rejuvenate Izium alone. 

The full cost of the city's reconstruction is yet to be determined, and financial help will be expected from the Ukrainian government. 

But how many investments can be made while Ukraine is still spending so much on fighting the conflict?

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