EXCLUSIVE | Kievan Efforts To Match Ukrainian Refugees With European Hosts: ‘Don’t Be Unmoved’
Every torn country was once beautiful. Ukraine is no exception. Ukraine was beautiful with a diverse landscape and well-preserved tradition and culture. Each city had its own charm. People marveled at the magnificent Soviet architecture and street art. They smiled, walked hand in hand and relaxed on the beaches of the Dnieper. A lively urban scene overshadowed the melancholy. Children played while parents watched. Education flourished. peace reigned.
The once calm, peaceful land is now a battlefield. Screams of terror dominate the laughter that once rang in the air. Blood splatters the streets and hands of those who mercilessly slaughter the innocent. There is death, destruction, misery and desolation. Mothers cry when children die. Lovers take their last farewell. The county is in ruins.
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Illia’s undisturbed life turned into a nightmare when we were woken up one night by the sound of bombs. Born in Kyiv, Illia has a small tech startup that he peacefully ran. He and his family followed the news and understood the possibility of a military escalation.
“I woke up to a loud noise, but I couldn’t really understand if it was real or if I was dreaming. At first it didn’t repeat itself. And then I heard a long beep from a passing car and I understood that someone was trying to wake people up. I heard another explosion and saw lightning. I woke my wife and we left our apartment within 10 minutes. We rang our neighbors’ bells to make sure they were awake and jumped in our car,” Illia, who asked to be addressed by his first name only, told MEAWW. “Having been following the news, we were kind of prepared. We bought some extra food and water beforehand, packed some things and collected important documents in one place.”
“We drove towards western Ukraine. The traffic was so terrible it took us 15 hours to get to a hotel. We waited 17 hours in line at the border with Slovakia. Thousands of people waited in cars, buses and on foot to cross the border. People were stressed, but in these times of need I realized how everyone was willing to help those in need. My wife crossed the border, but since the male population was not allowed to cross at that time, I returned to my relatives in western Ukraine,” he added.
Russian troops mercilessly kill civilians. More than 300 civilians have already been killed in Ukraine, the country’s Ministry of Health said. Over 1,000 people, including more than 100 children, were injured. The authorities have reportedly distributed weapons to those who want to defend the city.
Atrocities against civilians only seem to be increasing. On Tuesday, March 8, a bus convoy full of war refugees was attacked, killing 21 people, including two children, Ukrainian authorities said. Thousands of people, including civilians and soldiers, are said to have been killed.
A chilling video captured the moment when a Russian “peacekeeping armored personnel carrier” blew up a car in a completely unprovoked attack. An elderly civilian couple was killed in the car attack. A clip circulating on social media shows a car hitting the frame before stopping as a Kremlin tank fired twice at the vehicle, blowing it to pieces.
A Ukrainian mother was shot dead by Russian troops on Sunday, March 6, along with her two children in a Kyiv suburb as they fled Irpin. Tatiana Perebeinis, an IT worker, fled not earlier while caring for her ailing mother. Perebeinis, 43, and her two children, Alise, 9, and Nikita, 18, were killed along with a man they were traveling with when Russian forces fired on them indiscriminately.
A Ukrainian woman was gunned down just outside of Kyiv as she was returning from a dog shelter where she was delivering food. According to Anastasiia Yalanskaya’s family and friends, Russian troops may have deliberately attacked her vehicle at close range. Yalanskaya’s bullet-riddled car was found near the home of a man she volunteered with.
In another case, a Ukrainian police officer’s family, including his six-year-old daughter and newborn baby, were shot dead by Russian troops after the officer’s brother overheard a phone call. Police officer Oleg Fedko, 30, was working in the Kherson region when his partner and parents picked up his children to make sure they were safe. The brothers’ 56-year-old parents and the police officer’s partner Irina, 27, were killed. Their two children, baby Ivan and six-year-old Sofia, were also slaughtered.
Just a few days ago, a Ukrainian schoolgirl was gunned down with her parents in their family car by Russian saboteurs, local reports claim. Polina was a 4th grade girl from Kyiv and was in her car with her family and two siblings when it was fired upon by a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group.
“Knowing that I and my family were safe, I felt a burning need to do something to help my country and my people,” Illia said. “I don’t know how to shoot people, but I speak English and have managerial and technical skills, so I realized that I can be much more useful and efficient with a notebook than with a rifle. I’ve messaged several volunteer groups that I’m ready to help and luckily someone put me in touch with a certain Alex who asked me to help translate their newly launched platform for Ukrainian refugees. I jumped in and we quickly understood that I can help much more than just a translator. Now we are developing it together and I am responsible for communication on the Ukrainian side.”
The named Illia platform is called up EU4UA, which allows Ukrainian refugees to connect with citizens from Europe who are willing to offer emergency shelters. Data says that there are 11 million empty apartments/houses in the EU and many families have vacant bedrooms. As a result, every refugee can benefit from decent accommodation instead of having to deal with the harsh conditions in refugee camps.
“There are many challenges that both sides would have to deal with – logistics, language barriers, trust and many more, but we have a strong belief in humanity. Many refugees fled their homes without spare clothing, equipment or food. They have to wait hours to cross the border and experience extreme stress and terrible conditions. But they hope for the better because they know help will be expected after crossing the border. We see from the registrations on our platform that Europeans are ready and willing to help. They are ready to provide the refugees with shelter, food, clothing and everything they need, which is really touching. There are many people willing to help and it is our job to put them in touch with refugees,” Illia said.
“Building a platform from scratch under stressful conditions is not easy. But being involved in a project that has the potential to improve the lives of thousands of people takes a full-time commitment, which I’m absolutely willing to make,” he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin could reportedly use one of the deadliest weapons and is also considering nuclear options. Putin deployed a terrifying missile system on the battlefield after three days of defense by Ukrainian forces. Footage verified by CNN saw the Russian army moving TOS-1 Buratino missiles towards the front line. Meanwhile, Putin also reportedly ordered the military command to put the nuclear deterrent forces on high alert following aggressive statements from NATO allies.
“We have a spectacular team of European tech enthusiasts moving forward and several Ukrainian volunteers supporting us in any way they can. It is very inspiring to see that people from all over the world are willing to invest their time, resources and efforts to help Ukraine. We are all very different, but I believe that we have one thing in common – every single person strives for the better. And now we all have a real chance to help those in need. Please don’t stand by. Don’t be indifferent and unmoved,” Illia concluded.