Trying to Get Home to Ukraine

Refugees are pouring out of Ukraine, but a few people are going in the opposite direction. The following article tells the story of a group of Ukrainians who were on holiday in Egypt when Russia invaded. Flights to Ukraine were cancelled, and they are making their way home by other means. Some were housed briefly in austere German asylum accommodations alongside Syrian culture-enrichers.

Many thanks to Hellequin GB for translating this article from the German-language service of the Epoch Times:

Back to the war zone: Refugee reports “horror” in German asylum home

While millions of people are fleeing the war in Ukraine, others are traveling in the opposite direction: either to fight there or to look for relatives in need.

They are tanned and have their holiday suitcases with them. Now Andrej (42) and Viktoria (40) want to go home with their families. Back to a home where nothing is the same as it was when she left for the sun.

The eight vacationers to Egypt come from the city of Krywyj Rih in central Ukraine. Now they are at the Medyka-Schehyni crossing on Poland’s border with Ukraine. “We flew to Sharm El Sheikh on February 24th. We only found out in Egypt about the outbreak of war,” says construction worker Andrej. Because there were no more flights to Ukraine, the Egyptians initially kept the group there and finally put them on a plane to Stettin. Wouldn’t it be safer to stay in Poland? Andrei shakes his head. Three men from the group were of military age. “We want to fight.” And Viktoria adds: “Then we women carry the ammunition.”

Around 186,000 returnees

Millions of Ukrainians have fled since Russia began attacking their country. Almost 1.8 million refugees arrived in Poland alone during this period. But the Polish border guard counted around 186,000 people who crossed the border towards Ukraine by Monday. 83 percent of them are Ukrainians. Among the citizens of other countries there are many people who transport aid supplies across the border.

“Some women bring their children to safety in Poland and then go back to Ukraine to fight,” says Edyta Dabowska. The 30-year-old mathematician helps people at the Medyka border crossing as a volunteer on the Polish side. “Many Ukrainian women worked in Poland, they left children or elderly parents at home whom they now want to help.”

Other returnees are desperate and shocked about the conditions that await them as refugees in the West. Like Alexandra from Kharkiv. Together with her parents, her four-year-old daughter and her friend Valeria, the 28-year-old made it to Nuremberg. “But then they put us in a prison,” she says. The reception center in Germany seemed like a prison cell to her. She scrolls through photos on her phone. “Containers, bunk beds, dirty mattresses and leaking Dixie toilets — and lattice fences all around. Next to it is a dormitory full of Syrian men. It was horrific.”

“At least your own house, your own street”

The German authorities soon promised her better accommodation, says Alexandra. But the young woman had had enough. She left her parents in Germany and is now on her way back to Kharkiv with her girlfriend and daughter. “You sit there, you hear the impact, it’s not nice,” she said. “But at least it’s your own house, your own street.”

Oleg Kowal also wants to go back. The 27-year-old from Kropywnyzkyj in the central Ukrainian region of Kirowohrad worked as a construction worker in Poland for six months. Now he’s standing at the border crossing with a large bottle of Fanta and a bag with a camouflage look. “Our people are being attacked, I can’t sit there like that.” He served in the Ukrainian army for five years. Now he wants to fight, too.

It’s not just Ukrainians who want to join the resistance against the Russian occupiers. A group of well-trained Finns with dark tattoos and army backpacks pass by, taciturn. Their leader only reveals his nickname: “They call me Oppe.” Luca from France and his buddy also want to cross the border. Why? “To help,” says the buddy vaguely. But Luca is concrete: “Pour combat — for the fight.”

8 thoughts on “Trying to Get Home to Ukraine

  1. True. When I was at the border after the invasion to help drive people back, there were also quite a few people waiting for the train TO Ukraine. Mostly young men. And, as it turned out, one of the Ukrainians I went there with, after getting home the next day, suddenly disappeared.

    Later, it turned out he secretly went back to Ukraine, back to his hometown, with no military training and no equipment… He couldnt sign up because of the shelling, and the soldiers in his area have no ammo anyway. Left behind in Poland his young child and wife who, naturally, is not pleased.

    • Ugh! One of the most frustrating things to hear – that the soldiers don’t even have enough ammo! Why?
      When our soldiers were there training some of them, why weren’t there plans to leave enough ammo?
      Makes no sense.

      • Guessing maybe it’s a few reasons?

        1) A lot of the ammo possibly blown up now, by Russian attacks.

        2) Not enough ammo bought earlier. (We’re talking about one of the poorest countries in Europe).

        3) Not enough supplies coming through now.

        And it’s point 3) we should be addressing rapidly, as best we can… The harder this conflict is for Putin, the less likely he’ll want to start another one, in another place.

          • G – that’s one thing, but the Russians are also destroying Ukrainian cities with their artillery.

            So even if Ukraine “wins”, there may not be much of it left. Hence it’s a race against time…

          • You would be amazed at how fast a city can be rebuilt, they have done it for centuries, people cannot be replaced that easily on the other hand.

  2. This report somehow made me understand that this world war is a downward spiral of madness. No way out, no way upwards, no way to stop it.

    • This is what happens when the dogs of war are let loose, there is no stopping it and it takes on a life of it’s own where noone knows where it ends.

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