When Ukrainians run away, “we even feel a little guilty, we’re fine”

MEDICAL – Having traveled 14 miles to the border of Ukraine and safe, Ludmila Sokol was moved by the piles of clothes and other personal belongings that many others threw away, fleeing the fighting in front of her.

“You had to see things scattered on the road,” says a physical education teacher from Zaporozhye. “The further things go, the harder it is.”

Now Sokol has found refuge in Paris. And, like countless others, she now struggles with pain as she leaves her war-torn homeland.

It hurts to leave everything behind, she said. She found a home with her former gymnastics coach, the “second mother” she first met as a child. “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I only know that everything will be fine, because Victoria Andreevna is near.”

Its owner tied a homemade Ukrainian flag to a fishing rod to wave in a small gesture of personal disobedience over the Russian invasion.

The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine has reached 1.2 million, the International Organization for Migration said on Friday. It could be “the biggest refugee crisis of the century,” the UN refugee agency said, predicting it could eventually leave up to 4 million people. On Thursday, the European Union decided to give fleeing people temporary protection and a residence permit.

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Gestures of generosity abound everywhere. Volunteers and MOE staff stopped at a refugee camp in Siret, Romania, to celebrate the birthday of a 7-year-old girl from Ukraine with a cake, balloons and a song.

The UN Children’s Agency said half a million children in Ukraine were forced to flee their homes in the first week of the Russian invasion, but did not say how many had left the country.

In the small village of Uska in Hungary, Pastor Edgar Kovacs opened the only room of his church to refugees. It was quickly filled with 29 members of a gypsy family from Didovo, Ukraine. “I have a big family, so when we heard in the news what happened nearby, our hearts started beating faster. And my whole family and I tried to help, ”the pastor said.

Some Ukrainians brought with them little but grief. “My colleague was shot dead by Russian soldiers while she was trying to leave Kyiv for Zhytomyr. And she was shot, she is, unfortunately, now dead, “- said Kiev doctor Vladislav Stoyko, who was on vacation in Slovakia when he woke up on the day of the Russian invasion to find himself a fugitive. He is now seeking to move to Germany or the Czech Republic, part of a rising wave to the west.

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“Many people also go to Bratislava, Prague, Germany,” said Mikhail Aleksa, a Slovak Red Cross volunteer. “The important thing is that if they have passports, you know they can get almost anywhere in Europe now for free.”

But many are finding new homes far from Europe. After a 23-hour flight, more than 80 people, including many members of Ukrainian families, arrived in Mexico City early Friday.

“It’s a sense of security, a relief, but at the same time we have mixed feelings, and we even feel a little guilty that we are all right when we know that our relatives are now in the bunker,” said one of the evacuees. Alba Besser. “My son’s father is in the basement, my daughter-in-law’s father is also in the bunker, all in Ukraine.”

Some of those who left Ukraine decided to return home. At the Medika border checkpoint with Poland, 65-year-old Katarzyna Hardychuk boarded a bus preparing to move back. She came with her grandchildren but returned to be with the rest of her family.

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“I left the farm, my husband, children who are still in Ukraine,” she said. “I’m worried.” I’m worried. “

Her bus home was almost empty.

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