Heavy fighting in Donetsk, Ukraine, intensified over the weekend as on-going cease-fire talks broke down on Saturday. The region has been embroiled in one of its worst civil conflicts, which began in the spring of 2014 after a chain of events that included the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych and the insurrection of Russian forces on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Residents have since began fleeing the east Ukrainian town of Debaltseve in the Donetsk region on Thursday as fighting increased.

Experienced conflict photographer Manu Brabo has been embedded in Ukraine covering the conflict in and around Donetsk for several weeks. In Sight first spoke to Brabo during his first week in Ukraine.

Since it’s my first week here I’ve been mostly trying to get into the story. I’ve been visiting many areas of the town and trying to get the right contacts in order to get better access and bring a deeper, as well as tell a more human story to the readers. I’ve been shooting mostly in Kiesky, Petrovska, Shimaska. Kievsky is the closest point I’ve been to the airport. The area is being under intense Ukraine artillery fire in the last week. The situation that the civilian population is facing has been taking my energies since the winter has become another threat to their lives.
Daily life here its weird. People seem to be used to the shelling, and they try to continue with their life. Downtown is silent and quiet, but you can still develop a normal life. Coffee shops, restaurants and some stores are still open, while just a few kilometers away, in the outskirts (Kievsky district is the better example) people are under constant punishment. The modern downtown is barely affected by war. In the outskirts, close to the lines, humble residential areas with soviet architecture and populated by the working class have become a war landscape. Very few neighbors — mostly elders unable to leave the area or with no other place to go — still live there with no water, light or heat. Only charities are giving them some chance to survive the winter.
— Photographer Manu Brabo
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