When someone is released, on one hand it is a joy. On the other hand, it is the beginning of a difficult rehabilitation process.
Anna Mokrousova is the co-founder of “Blue Bird,” an organisation that tracks information about civilians kidnapped or disappeared in Eastern Ukraine and provides psychological, legal and humanitarian help to their families.
When the pro-Europe protests, known as Euromaidan, started in Ukraine in November 2013, tensions soon escalated in Donetsk and Luhansk, where the Russian-backed separatists clashed with pro-Ukrainian groups. In the midst of fighting, many people were kidnapped or disappeared, mostly by the Russian-backed militias. Almost half of those disappeared are civilians.
A native of Luhansk, Anna Mokrousova herself was kidnapped in 2014. Soon after being released, she received about 300 requests from friends and acquaintances about people who were disappeared. Since then, Anna has been dedicating her life to helping them: “The experience of being kidnapped has helped me understand what people go through and what kind of help they need,” she says.
Anna and her organisation help the families of the disappeared and civilians who have been released in a number of ways: from establishing contact with militias when possible, to gathering medication and food for the hostages, to providing psychological help and rehabilitation assistance for those released and their families.