Ukraine: Avoiding Bucha TOU

Ukraine: Avoiding Bucha

 TOU

Ukraine: Avoiding Bucha

Six weeks ago, life was easy for Yulia, her husband Valerie and their young son Artemco.

They moved into a new apartment in the quiet, green part of Bucha. She had a job as a hairdresser and had no choice but to leave her salon looking beautiful and confident.

One awful morning in late February changed everything. War – violent, loud and terrifying – roaring from the north. With her neighborhood in flames, Yulia decides to flee.

She and her family, including her mother Zinaida, joined 7.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Europe’s largest country (as of 1 April 2022).

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Marion Prisciaznyuk

Bucha, a mass grave in Ukraine.

Violence ‘impossible to understand’

After four weeks on the road, they arrived in the western province of Zakarpatti, hundreds of kilometers away from their scattered homeland.

When Yulia saw the horrific pictures and videos of the massacre and destruction in Bucha, she immediately burst into tears and remained speechless for a while. “It’s impossible to understand this level of violence,” she concluded. “It’s not something you want on the enemy, but it’s something that will never be forgiven or forgotten.”

From her neighbors, Yulia learns that after her family left, her flat was occupied, and her belongings were looted. The factory where Yulia’s mother worked was destroyed by a bomb.

Despite the Ukrainian authorities regaining control, people are still not allowed to return home due to the dangers of mines and other explosive remnants of war.

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Destroyed tank in Bucha, in the seam of Kiev, Ukraine.
Marion Prisciaznyuk

Destroyed tank in Bucha, in the seam of Kiev, Ukraine.

‘Now this is our home’

Here in Zakarpattiya, they can finally catch a break. Along with hundreds of other IDPs, they were given temporary shelter in a school in the small town of Bustino. Volunteers from Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic have done their best to turn individual classrooms into comfortable bedrooms. The sports hall has become the central warehouse for all the necessities of daily life.

“So here we are. This is our home now. We have everything we need, and kind people help us in every way we can, “says Yulia. That’s what’s important now. ”

She hopes her son will have no memories of those horrible weeks of fear and flight. “We don’t have a lot of personal belongings but what really breaks my heart is that we couldn’t get any toys for Artemco. He likes cars and, at home, he has a lot of car toys that he misses so much, and he always asks when he can come back home to play with them.

I just want him to be a kid, play games and spend time with other kids. If he has some toys or a bike, he will be really happy. And it will make me happy too. ”

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IOM staff at the school gym in the village of Bushtino where the local community stores supplies for internally displaced persons ...
© IOM / Jana Wyzinska

IOM staff at the school gym in the village of Bushtino where the local community stores supplies for internally displaced persons …

This article first appeared On the IOM website

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