Ukraine refugees’ hopes of return waning weeks into struggle


MEDYKA, Poland — As Russia launched its struggle in Ukraine final month, exhausted and frightened refugees arrived in neighboring international locations. They carried no matter they might seize in a rush. Many cried. They nonetheless do.

The United Nations says that greater than 3.6 million individuals have fled Ukraine for the reason that struggle began precisely one month in the past Thursday in what’s the largest motion of individuals in Europe since World Conflict II. Unprepared, most refugees believed they’d quickly be again house. That hope is waning now.

“Initially, we thought that this may finish fairly quickly,” Olha Homienko, a 50-year-old girl from Kharkiv mentioned. “To start with, no one might consider Russia would assault us, and we thought that it could finish rapidly.”

Now, Homienko mentioned, “as we will see, there’s nothing to sit up for.”

Homienko’s hometown of Kharkiv is amongst a number of Ukrainian cities and cities which were encircled and shelled closely by the Russians. Refugees coming from besieged cities have instructed of destruction, loss of life and starvation.

Natalia Lutsenko, from the bombed-out northern city of Chernihiv, mentioned she nonetheless thought the Russian invasion have to be some type of “misunderstanding.”

Lutsenko mentioned she could not comprehend why Russian President Vladimir Putin makes Ukrainians endure a lot.

“Why is he bombing peaceable houses? Why there are such a lot of victims, blood, and killed youngsters, physique components all over the place?” Lutsenko pleaded. “It’s horrible. Sleepless nights. Mother and father are crying, there are not any youngsters any extra.”

After fleeing her house, Lutsenko got here to Medyka, a small city on the border between Ukraine and Poland the place refugees have been coming for the reason that begin of the invasion.

Medyka Mayor Marek Iwasieczko clearly remembers Feb. 24, the primary day of the struggle.

“That day was an enormous shock for me. All of a sudden the massive variety of individuals appeared in Medyka,” Iwasieczko recalled. “They’d been touring for 4 days. They got here terribly exhausted, it was nonetheless chilly, they had been freezing.”

Although the Medyka authorities had ready some amenities upfront for the arrival of refugees, the city was nonetheless overwhelmed with the 1000’s of individuals arriving on the similar time and needing shelter, meals, medicines and most of all, heat and luxury.

Iwasieczko additionally mentioned everybody believed to the final second that the struggle could be prevented.

“Every part was ready, although we weren’t positive whether or not all this may be needed, we did to not know that the struggle would begin, that this may be Putin’s approach of doing issues,” he mentioned. A month later, “we’re dreaming in regards to the stabilization and the top of this case … We’re drained however we’re going to assist till the top.”

To ease the pressure on the international locations accepting refugees, the European Union introduced strikes Wednesday to assist its member states help the hundreds of thousands of refugees in accessing colleges for his or her youngsters, well being care, lodging and work.

The measures additionally goal to assist facilitate the motion of refugees between international locations that may home them within the EU and different international locations equivalent to Canada and the UK, which have already got giant Ukrainian communities.

Largely girls and kids – Ukrainian males from age 18 to 60 have been banned from leaving the nation and keep to battle — the refugees have sought to rebuild their lives in neighboring international locations, search jobs and begin colleges. Some have moved on different nations the place they’ve kin.

In Medyka, the refugees are nonetheless arriving, although in smaller numbers and in hotter climate. On Wednesday, youngsters may very well be seen clutching their favourite toys, girls carrying infants and other people arriving with their canine, whom they refused to go away behind.

Lutsenko was sitting on her mattress in a sports activities corridor that has been was a refugee heart, with dozens of beds lined up in a single central space. She too had thought the struggle could be over in just some days.

“No person thought it could final this lengthy, for a month.,” she mentioned. ” I consider that Ukraine will win and I consider in our military. I nonetheless consider.”


Observe the AP’s protection of the struggle at

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