More than 200 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Berlin so far. They are very afraid for their families and friends left behind…
Berlin/Iwano-Frankivsk – “I’m shocked, I’m panicking,” Natalia (30) whispered in Russian to her son Illia (6) and daughter Anastasia (4) when Putin’s rockets hit the block of flats across the street on Thursday morning.
The building that the family can see from their window catches fire. Thick clouds of black smoke rise. Natalia uses her cell phone to film the war in her hometown of Ivano-Frankivsk in south-western Ukraine. A little later, she and her husband Kostia (30) decide to flee.
They are lucky: another driver takes them and the two children with them. The ride is tough. “We had to wait a long time at the border with Poland,” says Kostia. Ukraine actually forbids men between the ages of 18 and 60 to leave the country. They are supposed to defend their country against Russia’s war of aggression. “But we were among the first refugees. That’s why they waved me through,” explains the father.
On Friday morning at 7 a.m. the family finally reached the arrival center in Berlin-Reinickendorf. Here they all live together in one room. “We’re safe now,” says Natalia. However, she had to leave her parents in central Ukraine. The family does not know how things will continue in Berlin. A decision is to be made on Wednesday. But Natalia has hope: “My husband works as a web developer. He can also work from Germany.”
Men stay in Ukraine to defend their homeland
A total of 210 Ukrainian refugees have arrived at the arrival center over the past two days. It’s unclear how many more are coming. Social Senator Katja Kipping (44, left): “So far we have not had a reliable number from the federal government. Currently we still have the effect that women often only arrive with their children because the men stay behind to defend the country.”
Yusef (30), on the other hand, made it to Berlin with his family. “We had just packed our things in the car. Then the Russian military moved into Odessa and rockets started flying,” he says. Yusef, his wife Natalia (30) and their two children Arien (5) and Riat (3) get into the car and drive off. They have a 24-hour journey ahead of them.
At the border with Poland they have to wait twelve hours to get on. “The Ukrainians wanted to send us back. We said we can’t go back, that we have small children,” says the mother. They make it over to Poland and on to Germany. The police finally stopped her at Tempelhofer Damm in Berlin. The officials call them a taxi to Reinickendorf.
Do you still have family and friends in Ukraine? Anastasia starts to cry. “I know this is no fun. It’s not a game and I’m scared,” she says.
Here’s how you can help
The war in Ukraine moves many Berliners. BILD explains how you can help now.
On www.elinor.network you can provide a room or a bed for people from Ukraine. There are more and more such offers from private individuals.
“I can’t yet say whether all offers of help online are serious,” says Sascha Langenbach from the State Office for Refugee Questions. The arrival center in Reinickendorf does not currently need any donations. Most refugees come with packed suitcases. “Please be patient for a few more days until we know what we really need,” says Langenbach.
If you still want to donate, you can do so at the Humanitarian Aid Collection for Ukraine (Ring-Center Berlin, Frankfurter Allee 113-117). For a truck driving to Ukraine, first-aid kits, hygiene items, food, clothing or blankets, among other things, are needed.