“I’m very happy to be here,” says 16-year-old Maria Pchenychna after finding her 57-year-old father, Yuriy, on the platform of the Kyiv station.
The teenager is among the thousands of women and children who, despite the uncertainties, have now returned to the Ukrainian capital after fleeing abroad at the start of the war. “I am grateful to people abroad, but I miss my home. “My mom is here with my dog,” she said.
Maria hastily left her home at the end of February, when the Russian invasion began. The area where Gostomel (north-west of kiiv) resided was the scene of intense fighting at that time. He returns with the only suitcase he took.
Acceleration since May 9
“We are accustomed to war, to the threat. His 27-year-old cousin, Dana Pervalska, said that the fears we experienced two months ago were different from today’s.
Returns have accelerated since May 9, when Ukraine feared Russian military action, the anniversary of its victory over Nazi Germany, with 34,000 returning to Ukraine versus 29,000 departures from abroad on Tuesday. Ukrainian border guards.
However, the overall balance remains largely negative with 5.9 million departures to 1.56 million returns, again according to border guards. But according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko, in Kiev, about two-thirds of the capital’s 3.5 million residents have already returned.
The vast majority of returning refugees are women and children, as men under the age of 60 are prohibited from leaving the country.
Roman, 22, a civil defense officer who wasn’t allowed to give his last name at the Kyiv train station, awaits the convoy that brings his wife back with a bouquet of flowers. “We were a little scared, but we decided it was better to go back,” he said. A little further on, another man is pacing with flowers in his hand.
The train stops and cries of joy are heard. Couples kissing and hugging. Children throw themselves into their father’s arms. Meetings are sometimes noisy, sometimes cautious, full of tears.
Life in the town seems to run its course. Most of the barricades have disappeared, shops have reopened, there are well-stocked supermarkets. But it remains unstable as there is still a daily curfew from 10 pm to 5 am and all segments of the economy are at a standstill.
“Getting used to living with war”
“You have to get used to living with war,” says a woman in her thirties, who does not want to be named. After spending two months in Poland, she decided to go back and join her fiancé.
“Life is good in Europe, but my life is in Ukraine. I don’t know what will happen in a month, but I want to build Ukraine’s future. I want to have Ukrainian children,” she says after shedding tears of joy as she crosses the border. “When (Russian President Vladimir) Putin dies, peace will come back,” he says.
Natalia, who fled to Lithuania with her six-year-old son and 14-month-old baby, also made her way home. “It’s calmer. No more airstrikes or artillery fire. The situation is better than in March (…) We are Ukrainian. Home is home,” he explains, in front of the stroller, which is decorated with a yellow and blue ribbon and the colors of Ukraine.
“The Terrible Truth”
Olena Chalimova did not leave the country after the explosion near her home and took shelter with her relatives in the large western city of Lviv for two months. She now claims she has “accepted the dreadful reality” of war and is “ready to live with it,” she says.
“I worked in a travel agency and in a movie theater. So I lost all my chances of making money. “My main job is to find a job,” he said. “Patriotism isn’t sitting at home, it’s being where you can be most useful.”
But the Kyiv station remains a starting point for exile for many, who fear that the conflict will continue and the war around the capital will resume. Among them, 37-year-old Katerina Okhrymenko, decided to go to Germany via Poland with her 11-year-old son Lukas.
He goes into the unknown, as he has neither relatives nor resources there. “I would have stayed if it weren’t for my son. I hope I will return as soon as possible, I believe that our country will win the war,” he said.
We kiss, hug and cry on the departure platform too – even here they are tears of sadness.
Source From: Google News