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Giving Birth to the Sound of Bombs Falling: Unseen Photos of War in Ukraine

“In a war, life goes on,” Daniel Vergara, director of photography for VICE, said after spending two weeks documenting the battle for the south of Ukraine.

Daniel Vergara is director of photography for VICE. He spent two weeks in Ukraine with a VICE News Tonight crew documenting the battle for the south of Ukraine.

“In a war, life goes on,” Vergara said over email after returning from Ukraine. “There are many stories and many people who continue to live. I try to document real life as much as possible.”

The extraordinary image at the top of this article was taken in Mykolaiv, which pre-war was home to around 500,000 people. “We were in this maternity hospital trying to show the difficulty of giving birth in a country at war. Imagine giving birth to the sound of bombs falling,” Vergara said.

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Asked what responsibility he felt as a photographer capturing such intimate moments in unimaginably traumatic and tragic times, he said: “It is very difficult to show the suffering of others without them feeling invaded. I always try to first smile, shake hands, and hug people before I start to shoot. I wait until people feel comfortable with my presence.”

He added: “The Ukrainians are very welcoming. What I witnessed in Ukraine was a people with a lot of strength and determination.”

A woman learns how to assemble and disassemble an assault rifle in Odesa.

A woman learns how to assemble and disassemble an assault rifle in Odesa.

A soldier near a checkpoint in Odesa region.

A soldier near a checkpoint in Odesa region.

Civilian volunteers working to defend the city.

Civilian volunteers working to defend the city.

Civilians set up barricades.

Civilians set up barricades.

An elderly man who suffered severe burns in an explosion.

An elderly man who suffered severe burns in an explosion.

The mother of a Ukrainian soldier at his funeral.

The mother of a Ukrainian soldier at his funeral.

A bomb disposal team retrieve an unexploded cluster munition.

A bomb disposal team retrieve an unexploded cluster munition.

A bombed neighbourhood in Mykolaiv.

A bombed neighbourhood in Mykolaiv.

A dog stands in the foreground of a burning field after a strike.

A dog stands in the foreground of a burning field after a strike.

A family is evacuated from Mykolaiv.

A family is evacuated from Mykolaiv.

Women wait to give birth at the hospital in Mykolaiv.

Women wait to give birth at the hospital in Mykolaiv.

Soldiers look on at a bombed military building where many of their comrades were killed.

Soldiers look on at a bombed military building where many of their comrades were killed.

Ukrainian troops in the trenches.

Ukrainian troops in the trenches.

A soldier prepares to fight on the front lines.

A soldier prepares to fight on the front lines.

A destroyed Russian combat vehicle.

A destroyed Russian combat vehicle.

A Ukrainian soldier poses for a portrait photo in the trenches.

A Ukrainian soldier poses for a portrait photo in the trenches.

A Ukrainian soldier at his combat post.

A Ukrainian soldier at his combat post.

A Ukrainian soldier makes tea.

A Ukrainian soldier makes tea.

The outskirts of Mykolaiv, seen through the remains of a destroyed truck.

The outskirts of Mykolaiv, seen through the remains of a destroyed truck.

Isobel Yeung, reporting for VICE News Tonight, interviews a woman in front of a crater left by a Russian strike.

Isobel Yeung, reporting for VICE News Tonight, interviews a woman in front of a crater left by a Russian strike.

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A man showing us around what was left of his house. He jokingly asked us not to forget to close the front door.