Hawar: Hawar had travelled with an Iraqi Kurdish family he met in the forest and attempted his first crossing into Poland with them in November 2021 when thousands of mainly Kurdish refugees and migrants had tried to cross into the European Union from Belarus. I want to go to the United States, he said. It was the last throes of winter and the snow on the forest floor had melted during the day, leaving a muddy sludge that made it difficult to walk without slipping while making their way through dense forest. Two men in the group began to challenge the border guards orders to follow the police. Its a stupid war.. Taras stayed in Lutsk, where he cares for his father who has cancer but is unable to get any treatment at the moment.
All Ukrainians know about Holodomor. Taras rang at 5:30pm. The Polish state and society mobilised rapidly to ensure that Ukrainian refugees were made to feel welcome. If their group of 12, including six children, remained quiet and moved slowly, he believed they stood a chance of evading detection. Civilians are killed if they express dissatisfaction, Hawar says, referring to brutal crackdowns against people protesting against corruption and unpaid wages. The little kids will integrate. In 2005, the Kurdish region of Iraq was recognised as an autonomous region under the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) after decades of political unrest and brutal repression, including the 1988 Anfal genocide, where at least 100,000 Kurds, mainly civilians, were killed by Saddam Husseins troops. On March 21, the Bruzgi camp was closed, forcing people, who were notified only a few days in advance, to choose between attempting to cross the border or returning to their homeland. They had been brought a rice dish during the night, but no one could identify what it contained, and the children refused to eat more after tasting it. The border crossings into Poland have reduced significantly but refugees from Ukraine are expected to continue to arrive as the situation remains uncertain inside Ukraine with large displacement and insecurity. Meanwhile, politicians and their families continue to increase their wealth.. Leaving Kyiv, where she had so many memories with her dad, felt like he was leaving her life all over again, she says. A few days after the war broke out in February, Mark fled the battered city of Kharkiv by himself. OCHA coordinates the global emergency response to save lives and protect people in humanitarian crises. He says he fears political retribution if he returns to the Kurdish region of Iraq due to his criticism of the ruling elites over a lack of employment opportunities caused largely by political corruption and nepotism. Although we had prepared for it, we couldnt believe that Putin would be so stupid to start this war, she says. Joanna Kakissis/NPR The Polish state is assisting municipalities financially, as they struggle to find long-term housing, jobs and places in schools for the newcomers. Before reading the children a bedtime story, Tasha asked them to talk about the things they were grateful for in the day, and how they can help other people in need. The youth hostel Maxym fled, the last stage in Ukraines orphanage system, was tied to a vocational school. I keep telling myself and the children that were in a safe place now, she says. The girls are like my sisters or daughters, Hawar says, his fondness for them evident as he describes their personalities as bubbly, friendly and occasionally naughty. The adults will get jobs, said Krzysztof Gorniak, left, a chef in Warsaw who runs several nonprofits helping refugees. Studious and shy, he was so anxious about being in a new environment that he found it difficult to go to school in the first two weeks after enrollment. The little kids will integrate. Now the highlight of his week is a boxing class. If you want friends, he said, you dont talk politics. I have a very active imagination, she says, laughing nervously. They begged to be taken to a detention centre where they could potentially begin an asylum process. Kristina tells Linda about her dad, who died two years ago. The Polish authorities have registered over 1.1 million people, 94 per cent of whom are women and children, providing them with a state ID number that enables access to services. "We eat here, we cook here, we sleep here, we do everything here," Alacheva says. Fleeing something they dont understand. On video, he showed her a bed covered with apparel and supplies that he planned to drive to the Territorial Defence Forces. Hawar and the others crouched on the ground, but a beam of light soon found them, and a voice shouted: We see you.. Tasha: Pulling on a light parka over her striped sweater, and a hat over her hair, Tasha cut a forlorn figure as she headed to the refugee reception centre in the middle of Krakow. And just as the pandemic was finally lifting, their country was invaded and flung into war. As she clutches a pencil and leans over a black-and-white sketch, her pink Mona Lisa socks peeking out, she radiates an intensity. The news is always terrible when she reads it.
People who fled the war in Ukraine and members of the Ukrainian diaspora pray in an Orthodox church in Krakow on Sunday. From her perspective, Alacheva says things are going smoothly. Tasha: Around 8am, Tasha and the children washed the dishes. As it was her first free day in a while, Tasha went on a walk around the city. It was very tiring, he says. The sketch is finished, she announced. She desperately hopes that the family can return home by the summer, and also doesnt want to deprive someone else of the opportunity to work. I tell myself this wont be forever, she says. "We want to offer the students security, not just an education," Mikos says. After putting the children to bed, Tasha had some quiet time to herself. Well go home someday.. A fortnight after arriving in Poland, the head teacher offered them places in the class. In the early evening, a car arrived to take them to Minsk, but the family asked to be dropped off at a small country house in a village near the city of Grodno in the countrys west. The URL has been copied to your clipboard, Poland Struggles to Assist Millions of Ukrainian Refugees. Sprinkled throughout Warsaw in rented apartments, or with Polish families, or some by themselves in dorms, these are the refugees who face the highest risks. The current conflict is more than one country taking over another; it is in the words of one U.S. official a shift in "the world order. One of the girls she taught has a father who was fighting to liberate the city of Bucha and has not been in contact with him for three weeks.
Poland remains the main country of arrival for refugees from Ukraine, UNHCR spokesperson Olga Sarradotold journalists at a regular press briefing in Geneva. "The Ukrainians all apply for them, because they want to work.". I really loved what we had, she says. Loud sounds have scared her since the war began. Hawar must plan to return to the border. Hawar had managed to arrange a short rental from a local contact he had met at the camp with the little money he still had. If she left Ukraine, she said, Whos going to support me financially?, So she sent Katya to live with her other daughter, Sofia, who was working for a magazine in Warsaw, though Sofia, 22, said, Im not ready for being her mom.. Lifes not bad, he said. Later, if Tasha has time, shell check in on Taras again to make sure hes safe. Hawar: At 10am, Hawar woke to a stern-looking police officer unlocking the door to the room where they had spent the night. Guns.
Alacheva's mother, a psychologist, is one of them she's counseling other displaced Ukrainians. A little after midday, Tasha had collected the few items she needed and left the reception centre. Every day I must choose, said Mark, who escaped Ukraine right before his 18th birthday to avoid military service and didnt want to share his last name for fear of being punished or, at a minimum, ostracized if he returns. Hawar became known as mamosta Hawar, teacher Hawar in Kurdish, a nickname that the girls still use when referring to him. But it was something else, he explained. Carefree childhood swirls away.
She's got a new friend here, 12-year-old Kristina Vitkovska, also from Kyiv. The 33-year-old prepared cereal with milk for the children and some bread and yoghurt for herself. The teen years are hard enough anywhere. A Warsaw park has become a favorite meeting spot for many of the Ukrainian teenagers who fled to Warsaw after the Russian invasion of their country. Instead, the officer pulled a man in his 60s out of the car by his legs. The police officer led them into a dank hallway where he placed an official document up against the wall and told them all to sign it. Guards searched the group, taking any money they found. Their families were split up. Polish authorities have converted it into a refugee shelter. Hawar, who had the best grasp of English in the group and was translating for the others, suspected that the guard was close to beating the two men. "We've found a place for the first wave of refugees," he says, "but we don't really know what's going to happen next.". Roughly 200km (124 miles) south of where Hawar was pushed back into Belarus, Polands borders with Ukraine remain open to the millions of Ukrainian refugees escaping the horrors of war. Whenever he and the volunteers went around the camp, the children hugged them. Or I could go back to my room and study and have a good future., Man, he said, smiling a charming young mans smile. Theyre still paying their staff their salaries, but with no jobs, the financial strain of their situation is looming over them. Since 24 February, nearly 4 million border crossings from Ukraine to Poland have been recorded by the Government of Polands Border Guards. Two of the girls, aged four and six, have a rare and serious progressive medical condition that causes tissues and organs to enlarge, become inflamed or scarred, and eventually waste away, resulting in early death. And while the pace has slowed in comparison to early March when over 100,000 people were arriving per day May has continued to witness around 20,000 daily arrivals. "I've heard that it's hard to find space for us in Krakow," she says. More than 2 million Ukrainians have entered Poland in the last weeks, though Polish authorities estimate that less than half have stayed. Ustyn enjoyed working on the few Ukrainian textbooks his mother had brought from home. Her interlocutor was the cat., Her mother made the difficult decision to get her out. As she stood back from her drawing, a precociously skilled portrait of three fantasy figures, Katya allowed herself a look of satisfaction. Hawar: When two police officers arrived in black tops and military camouflage trousers, the children and women cried, begging them to let them go.
Colourful pictures painted and drawn by the children covered the classroom walls.
An E.U. Their classmates drew a paper dove in the colours of the Ukrainian flag and stuck it to the door to welcome them. Over 100,000 refugees from Ukraine have already received financial support from UNHCR to cover their basic needs, such as paying rent or buying food and medicine.. Tasha: The children had a sweet bedtime snack a tradition in the Kyshchun household. Drunk kids fighting.. But staying in Belarus meant the start of an arduous four months in a Bruzgi logistics facility overcrowded, squalid temporary housing set up by the government, where roughly 1,500 people slept in assigned areas among rows of pallet racks in a warehouse. One is 11-year-old Linda Voronaya, a slight girl with a pixie haircut and a cautious smile. Most froze to death. The relaxed border crossing procedures (which were in place since 24 February) have concluded and normal Government of Poland border management processes are in place. She says that Maiia is also terrified of planes, believing that theyre Russian aircraft sent to kill them. On the tram, Tasha heard Ukrainian being spoken. Since Hawar and his adopted family felt returning to Iraq was not an option for them, a day before the camp shut, they set off to try to enter the EU again. Once people see that we might be here for a long time, theyll get sick of it. Anyone can read what you share. After tidying, Maiia and Solomia, who attend the kindergarten one floor down, kissed their mother before heading inside. But some teens took off without any parent. Afterwards, Tasha put on a Ukrainian educational cartoon for the children while she cleaned the communal staircases. Most crossed into neighboring countries with their moms but without their dads, because of Ukraines restrictions on military age men, 18-60, leaving the country. Cash is provided for a three-month period to those most in need serving as a transitional emergency safety net until they can better support themselves or be included in government social protection systems. Today is a rare day off. A family photograph is one of the few belongings Katya Sundukova has with her in Warsaw. Hawar, a gentle, softly spoken Iraqi Kurd in his early 30s, and the people he was with had found a hole in the border fence and managed to slip into Poland from Belarus in the dead of night. It was mid-afternoon when they were allowed back into Belarus. She says the school made space for scores of additional Ukrainian students, and parents chipped in to buy them backpacks with all the essentials notebooks, pens, markers. The group had spent a day and a night in the forest before finding an opening in the border fences. People who fled the war in Ukraine and members of the Ukrainian diaspora pray in an Orthodox church in Krakow on Sunday. Polish border guards then engaged in pushbacks of people to Belarus. And while its hard being without his parents, he said, and not knowing what lies ahead, he also feels a sense of possibility, of having a future that is yet to be carved. The only thing left is to hang it in my room in Kyiv.. From early February, she and her husband Taras, 37, who both run a kindergarten in Sofiyivska Borschagivka, a village in northwestern Ukraine, had been practising war drills with their students and staff.
This is more than half of the over 7.5 million crossings out of Ukraine since the onset of the war. Tasha: At 9am, Tasha started to clean the bedroom. Mark, 18, lives in a dorm after arriving in Poland by himself. The roots of Russia's invasion of Ukraine go back decades and run deep. For four months, they had endured life in Bruzgi camp, travelling once a week to a hospital with the two girls for their essential treatment, in the hopes that they could reach the EU. But for Hawar and many others, returning home was not an option. Hawar: Two rows of fences divided the forested landscape, leaving between them a 100-metre-wide (328 feet) buffer zone, a no-mans land, where Hawar and his adopted family would be forced to survive on dwindling supplies and drink yellowish water from the streams and rivers. Hawar opened their tent that morning in front of a group of guards who just laughed at us, he recalls sadly. Hawar asked to read it, but again the short, middle-aged officer refused and raised his voice. In the cold light of day, Hawar took in the bare white walls and a small window that looked onto some railway tracks and a river. Get out of the cars, or well force you out, shouted the policeman. UNHCR stands ready to continue assisting the Polish authorities in ensuring that refugee needs are protected, met with dignity, and can transition to sustainable solutions. A hallmark of any war is children on the move. Ustyns school is a 20-minute walk away. Before the Ukraine war, the park out front had been neglected, becoming a campground for the homeless. Hawar, his distinct curly-haired quiff unchanged despite a night sleeping rough, clutched the belongings he had to see him through the time in the forest. ", Galia Alacheva and her mother Sara Tarashchanska sit together in a pop-up lunchroom in an abandoned mall that has been converted into a shelter for Ukrainian refugees. In December, the crisis appeared to dissipate as people were allowed out of the red zone and back into Belarus with some repatriation flights organised by the Iraqi government.
After attempting to read the document a few times, Hawar and the other adults felt they had no option but to sign it. In support of the Government-led response, UNHCR has coordinated the development of an Inter-Agency Regional Refugee Response Plan which brings together 87 partners in Poland. There are many parks in Warsaw a verdant city, especially lovely in June but the Park all the Ukrainian kids talk about lies in the shadow of a Warsaw icon: the Palace of Culture and Science. When they make it out, they are often taken to detention centres or pushed back to Belarus. Today I tried a new type of bread, and I learnt the Polish word for milk, he told her as they walked home. On the morning of the invasion, Russian bombs started falling near their home. But hes worried about the teenagers. We were scared and shocked. Its very beautiful there.. For them, it was a game. What hurts us so much is the distinction made by Poland between us and Ukrainian refugees., *Name has been changed to protect the identity of the interviewee, Al Jazeera Centre for Public Liberties & Human Rights, cross into the European Union from Belarus, banned NGO workers and journalists from entering, raping and killing more than 400 civilians in Bucha. The data on her phone didnt work properly so she got lost and was frequently disoriented. In the dark, the stony-faced guards were an intimidating sight. Not finishing our food is a sin, Tasha says, referring to the Great Famine of 1932-1933 that killed millions of people in Soviet Ukraine. I cry a lot when I think of her, she says. He realised that the police officers had lied to them. I remind them that this is not our house. In the cold, damp environment, the childrens medical condition began to worsen. Tarashchanska sees herself as lucky; she's working in her field. Across town in the pretty, quiet neighborhood of Muranow, Katya Sundukova, 13, works on her drawings. Maxym Kutsyk, second from right, a 17-year-old orphan, said he had left without permission from a youth hostel in central Ukraine. I have many friends in Bucha, and I feel fear that the same thing could happen to our village. Poland has put in place systems to ensure legal stay, access to employment, education, health care and other social welfare schemes for Ukrainian refugees, said the UNHCR spokesperson. KRAKOW, Poland Galia Alacheva, an art-loving 17-year-old from the Ukrainian port city of Odesa, sips tea in a pop-up lunchroom tucked into a shuttered mall.
The whole family, like so many others from Ukraine, has become a study in resilience. Maxym Kutsyk, a 17-year-old orphan, said he had left without permission from a youth hostel in central Ukraine. Think of the Kindertransport of Jewish children before World War II. When hes not studying computer programming online at two universities, hes hanging out at the Park.. She tried to comfort them with some chocolates, but they backed away from her, afraid of the large rifle slung over her shoulder. A police officer shouted at the group to get out of the vehicles, but they refused, asking to be taken to a detention centre.
It was six hours every day of teaching, but it was so good for me, and it was important to be busy.. The adults will get jobs, said Krzysztof Gorniak, a chef in Warsaw who runs several nonprofits helping refugees. With more than 3.5 million people having fled to Poland since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, continues to scale up its operations to provide aid to arrivals, the agencys spokesperson said on Friday. "Since we left Ukraine, this is our home. The makeshift school that Hawar and five other volunteers created offered classes in psychology, maths, English, singing, dancing and painting. Then they took a shower and got ready for bed. Tasha hasnt yet applied for these benefits, as shed like her family to continue supporting themselves. Ustyn knew what was going on more than the girls, she says.
At an elementary school named after the 20th-century Polish writer and adventurer Arkady Fiedler, a Ukrainian teacher's aide walks down a hall with a group of Ukrainian students. Its only normal, she says. Hawar, who had taken responsibility for the fire that had kept them warm during the cold night, had not slept. As soon as Russia invaded, countless parents made the agonizing decision to uproot their children and get them to safety. Some fled to Polands capital alone. The policeman handed them copies of the documents they had been forced to sign, along with their phones, before aggressively directing them into a narrow no-mans land on the border. "The language is definitely a problem, because most of the [Ukrainian] children do not speak Polish at all, and they feel very lost," he says. Omar Marques/Getty Images Terrified. He says they have become an adopted family to him. Non-Ukrainian refugees and migrants are often vilified by politicians and in Polish state media and barred from receiving help, leaving only a dedicated and secretive network of local activists, who risk up to eight years prison time, to provide them with aid. One female guard appeared to be moved by the sight of the crying young children. Hawar became a volunteer teacher alongside United Nations Childrens Fund workers allowed to access the camp. The Russian army is accused of raping and killing more than 400 civilians in Bucha just 50km (31 miles) away from the familys hometown and surrounding towns in March. Over the course of the day, Tasha expressed her gratitude for the Polish state and its people, although she is apprehensive about their generosity petering out. I wanted to get out. The UN has helped tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees to cross into Poland and other neighbouring countries. But starting in March, Ukrainian teens discovered it. Warsaw is a beautiful city. While some have moved on, some 1.2 million Ukrainians have opted to seek temporary protection by registering for PESEL, the national identification number, with the Government of Poland, facilitating access to health and education, as well as social protection. After spending a few days in Lutsk, Tasha, having read about Russian saboteurs hiding weapons in childrens toys, decided that it was not safe to stay, and sought refuge in Poland on March 3. Just as they were becoming adults, Covid upended the world. Maiia, who is more gregarious, has been quick to make new friends. Less than 30 minutes later, Hawar saw the border fences flanked by razor wire and the well-beaten footpath patrolled by border guards. But absorbing more than 3 million refugees is a big challenge for Poland, which has a population of about 38 million. Work isnt easy to come by, especially with so many Ukrainians in the country now, and fewer jobs than there are people. But for the one million or so Ukrainian teen refugees, its like the mirror they were peering into, trying to figure out their futures, exploded in their faces. Strzelecki and two other Poles staff the job center booth that's part of a help center inside a giant sports arena. In the end, they were only able to stay a night and a morning in the EU before being left to languish on Polands northeastern border. "But, you know, I don't feel unwelcome at all.". Tasha thinks she is stressed after the traumatic move but is too young to articulate her feelings properly. For now, theyre living as thriftily as possible off their savings, which they had been hoping to use for their first family holiday to Egypt. The childrens father, who was in his early 30s, was suffering from severe kidney pain caused by dehydration by the time they arrived and had to be helped to bed. Now he lives with his half sister, her three young children and her boyfriend near Warsaw in a tiny slit of an apartment. The Belarusian border guards understood that the family wouldnt last long if they didnt get some food and rest so, in a rare display of sympathy, they organised transport to a sprawling military base nearby. A car blared its horn loudly on the street, making Tasha jump. Poland enacted a law last month allowing Ukrainians to legally live and work in the country for at least 18 months, with the option to extend. I go around by myself, sightseeing., In Warsaw Park, Ukraines Teen Refugees Hang Out and Hang On, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/24/world/europe/ukraine-refugees-warsaw-poland.html. Newly arrived refugees often come from areas heavily affected by the fighting, some having spent weeks hiding in bomb shelters and basements, she updated the press. They are happy girls. Its a stupid war.. They knew they couldnt stay long in the country. "There was talk of opening up a special Ukrainian school, but we didn't want them to feel like we were putting them in a ghetto of sorts. Krakow's longtime Mayor Jacek Majchrowski, whose office is running the refugee relief effort along with humanitarian organizations and volunteers, says the local school system is hiring displaced Ukrainian teachers as aides. While Taras covered the apartment windows with tape, Tasha and the children packed their bags with just two sets of clothing each. I think theyre giving more than they can afford to. She says she's from Kyiv, where she loved exploring parks with her friends. On weekends, Ustyn and Maiia take responsibility for navigating. Hawar: Relieved and exhausted, Hawar and his adopted family were relaxed as the cars made their way along the bumpy country roads. Chris Melzer, spokesperson for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Germany, told UN News that he has witnessed many traumatic scenes, of families ripped apart by the crisis. Ukrainians also have the right to work and are provided free housing for at least two months. Their towns were bombed. I cant accept that I should be afraid of my own thoughts and told how to live, he says. hide caption. The code has been copied to your clipboard. At least 19 people have died in the forest since the standoff began. At this point, everyone realised that they would have to do what they were told.