Ukrainian refugees arrive in Sighet, Romania Ukrainian refugees arrive in Sighet, Romania 

Fleeing Ukrainians highlight difficult journey, fears for future

Several refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine highlight the the wide-ranging devastating effects of the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine. Tatiana from Ternopil says her dream is that the war will end soon and those who left will be able to return to help rebuild Ukraine

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

More than two million people have been forced to flee Ukraine in search of safety as Russia’s invasion of its neighbour stretches into its fifteenth day, creating in its wake, what the UN has called the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

The refugees are making their way to neighbouring countries to the West, with large numbers entering Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova. Many choose to stay in these neighbouring countries, but others continue to other European countries, in hope of brighter prospects for the future.

The journey, in many cases, takes several days, and they arrive tired, worn out, and often in need of assistance, which many organizations and aid agencies, including the Church, are actively taking steps to provide for the refugees who arrive at the borders daily.

Jean-Charles Putzolu of Vatican News is presently on the ground in Sighet, Romania, where many Ukrainian refugees on the move are received and offered humanitarian support. He spoke to some refugees who shared their disheartening experiences of having to leave home, loved ones, and comfort for other countries.

Cities destroyed

Nardiejda, an 81-year-old from Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, had to leave her home in her old age, alongside another lady of her age, as well as her daughter, granddaughter, and a little child who is 4-years-old.

She and her family were forced to flee after a rocket fell near her home. She explained that she boarded a taxi to Kordon, and was brought from Kordon to the emergency shelter by volunteers.

Nardiejda laments the devastating effects of the war, which has damaged several cities close to Kyiv including Pripyats and Burshtyn. She is also very concerned about the sick, elderly, or poor people who cannot make the journey from Ukraine into other countries.

Voices from Ukraine: Nardiejda

Dialogue, not war

Tetiana's journey, from Ternopil in western Ukraine, to the reception center began after she and her children had to hide in the basement of her home due to the fighting. She then decided to go to a village in the countryside for some days, and finally decided to move abroad with her son and parents, both of them over 60-years-old.

“I did not think that such a thing can happen to Ukraine in the 21st century,” she says. “We can solve problems by words and not by war, not by guns.”

Tetiana hopes that this “mess” will end soon and those who have gone abroad will come back to Ukraine and help the country “to be better and safer.”

Voices from Ukraine: Tatiana

Concern for family members left behind

As the reports from Ukraine continue to paint a sad picture of terrible devastation and destruction, Evgenia says she is worried for her husband in Kyiv, her two brothers, and her parents, as well as for those who cannot leave the besieged country.

She expresses gratitude for the reception she has received, as she continues with her plans to make her way to Germany to meet with her relatives.

Evgenia hopes to get a job in Germany in order to help her relatives who have stayed behind in Kyiv, because “they have lost their jobs and the situation is really bad for them.”

Voices from Ukraine: Evgenia
10 March 2022, 12:17