Volunteers in locations near Kyiv welcome refugees – NV Photoreport
NV took a trip to Bilohorodka, a suburb of Kyiv, to see what it has been going through these past days, as the Russian army continues to threaten Ukraine’s capital city
Refugees taking off to Bilohorodka, a major suburb to the west of Kyiv, after they left the neighboring suburbs of Irpin, Bucha and Vorzel.
NV spoke to evacuees fleeing the Kyiv region, asking them questions about their well-being and also interviewed several volunteers who are helping them.
The suburb of Bilohorodka became a magnet for those fleeing other neighboring areas since day 1 - Feb. 24 - of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Nearby, the so called Hostomel operation – a Russian attack focused on taking over the local airport – has been going on for almost a month now. The town of Vasylkiv, relatively nearby, has received its own share of Russian bombs and missiles.
Kyiv remains a major focus for the Kremlin, as it aims to encircle and occupy the capital city of Ukraine. Prior to the war, Kyiv was a city with 4 million residents and 1 million cars on its roads, according to estimates provided by Bolt, an Estonian transportation service. But now these figures have diminished quite substantially after possibly hundreds of thousands of Kyiv residents fled the city in order to find safety elsewhere.
Every single day, Kyiv and those who stayed there can hear the sounds of the air defense system, booming to announce that yet another group of Russian aircraft is approaching the skies above the Ukrainian capital. These sounds, while saving lives, also put civilians under significant emotional stress.
Villages and towns in close proximity to Kyiv are experiencing everything or almost everything that Kyiv is going through, while residents of the settlements of Hostomel, Bucha, Irpin, Byshiv, Makariv, Lyshnya, and Stoyanka are having an even harder time as Russian army has been advancing on those directions, trying to invade Kyiv along one of the major highways coming from the West.
Therefore, the growing number of refugees in Kyiv Oblast is not a surprise in any way.
Refugees from Irpin, Bucha, Vorzel and other places that have experienced major shelling by Russian forces are going to places of safety. Parts of the the settlements they’re fleeing are under control of Russians.
In a specially designated area for evacuees, they can warm up, have a hot meal, and receive medical care.
Local authorities provide buses that head to Kyiv’s central railway station.
Yulia is one of the evacuees who fled in her own vehicle. She said she was going from Vorzel to Western Ukraine, taking her kids with her. She is also taking her pets: three dogs and eight cats. Yulia provided help to her neighbors, feeding and caring for their furry loved ones.
“Many people stayed there – they don’t want to or are not able to move away. (They are) not getting any help, besides some supplies delivered today (March 17). Almost every house has elderly residents: mostly women and some men,” says Yulia.
The town has some problems with food and medicine supplies, though there is a dairy farm nearby that people can go to for milk.
Galina, 44, has been living in Vorzel, but managed to evacuate with her family in their neighbors’ private car. She says she spent 22 days without electricity, water or gas.
Elena Chernyak is one of those who evacuated from districts neighboring the city of Kyiv. She became a volunteer in Bilohorodka on the third day of the war. Volunteers have to deal with thousands of people who are emotionally devastated.
“We feed them, calm them down, provide medical care,” Chernyak tells NV.
“At the very beginning we called our emergency cars so people could get out in Gazels (a popular Russian van model), with wounded among them. There were lots of handicapped people, sick people, and some died during the trip.”
Each day, Chernyak has to listen to the stories that the evacuees tell her.
“Once a 18-year-old woman came to us,” Chernyak began, with tears on her cheeks.
“She had been constantly raped for eight straight days by different people, different men. She was released afterwards, but she was horribly depressed. You should have seen her. People talk a lot, it was hard for them to get through this. Some men simply walked around and cried.”
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google News