Viktor, 68, hold his 11-month-old granddaughter Alissa as they wait for a bus to leave the eastern Ukranian city of Slaviansk June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
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Clutching empty plastic bottles, hundreds of people stand waiting for water in this besieged city, with the almost constant thud of artillery shells echoing in the distance.More than two months after pro-Russian separatists rose up in east Ukraine, electricity and water have been cut off in this depressed industrial city, food is running low and half the population has fled. Many of those who remain are getting desperate and local officials, echoed by Russia, warn that a humanitarian disaster is looming in east Ukraine as fighting intensifies between the rebels and government forces trying to prise them out. Pensioner Viktor Parhobin is among them, facing upheaval again 20 years after he moved to Slaviansk, a city of 130,000, to escape a war in Russia's Chechnya region.The U.N. put it at 17,000 but Russia's Itar-Tass news agency quoted a Russian official as saying Thursday the number of Ukrainians living just across the border in Russia had swelled by 70,000 to 400,000 in just four days.Among those that remain, a quarter of the Donetsk region's 4.5 million population are suffering shortages of some or all basic supplies, an official of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic said.
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