ZAHONY, Hungary — After bombs began falling in her hometown of Kharkiv, Annamaria Maslovska left her friends, her toys, and her life in Ukraine and set off on a days-long journey along with her mom towards security in the West.
After lastly crossing the Hungarian border by prepare together with a whole bunch of different Ukrainian refugees, the 10-year-old Maslovska stated she had begun to fret about her friends in Kharkiv after the messages she despatched to them on Viber went unanswered.
“I really miss them because I can’t contact them, they just read my messages and that’s all. I really worry, because I don’t know where they are,” she stated in clear English from contained in the prepare station on the border city of Zahony.
Annamaria, who was raised alone by her mom, is one in every of greater than 1 million children who’ve fled Ukraine in the lower than two weeks since Russia first invaded the nation, one thing UNICEF spokesperson James Elder referred to as “a dark historical first.”
That implies that children symbolize round half of the greater than 2 million people who have fled the struggle, an exodus that the U.N. refugee company has referred to as the fastest-growing refugee disaster in Europe since World Conflict II.
Most of these fleeing the struggle have entered nations on Ukraine’s western border, like Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova. The bulk have gone into Poland, the place 1.33 million refugees have crossed based on the Polish Border Guard company.
Moldova Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița informed CNN on Sunday that one in each eight children in her nation is a refugee.
Valeria Varenko, 9, fled along with her mom Julia and her little brother from Ukrainian capital Kyiv after bombings had pressured them to shelter in the basement of their condo constructing.
After driving day and night time for 2 days, the household reached a brief refugee reception heart in Barabas, Hungary. Valeria stated she wished to inform children left behind in Ukraine to watch out, and to not contact any objects in the road as a result of “they could be bombs which can hurt them very much.”
Her father stayed behind to assist defend Kyiv from Russian troops edging nearer to the town. She stated she was very pleased with him, and that she misses him “very much.”
“I would like him to come back, however sadly he isn’t allowed,” she stated.
Her mom Julia, 30, stated that despite the fact that she was afraid herself, she’d informed Valeria to be sturdy and courageous, and that crucial factor was protecting their household collectively.
“We will pray that this will all be over soon so we can come home,” Julia stated.
Along with children, most different refugees are ladies — the moms and grandmothers of the children which might be bringing them to security — since Ukrainian males from age 18 to 60 aren’t permitted to leave the nation.
That coverage is geared toward protecting males out there to combat towards Russian forces which might be making deeper incursions into Ukrainian territory.
Annamaria’s hometown of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis with 1.5 million inhabitants, has undergone heavy bombardment by Russian forces. Residential areas in the town close to the Russian border have been shelled for a number of days earlier than a missile strike hit a authorities constructing in the town’s central Freedom Sq. final week, killing not less than six.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy referred to as the assault “frank, undisguised terror.”
Despite the fact that she’s solely 10, the precocious Annamaria, now a refugee, already is aware of she desires to be an actress in america, and is pleased with talking English at a excessive stage.
“I want to be an actress in USA and English is a very popular language,” she stated. “A big percent of people in the world know it and it’s very easy to speak it in other countries.”
She and her mom, Viktoria, deliberate to journey on to Hungary’s capital, Budapest, however did not know the place they’d go after that. Annamaria stated she hoped to go to Disneyland in Paris.
As soon as the struggle ends, she stated, she desires to return to Kharkiv and reconnect along with her friends who’ve been scattered by Russia’s violent invasion.
(*1*) she stated. “Kharkiv, it’s like a piece of your heart.”
Bela Szandelszky in Barabas contributed to this report.
Observe the AP’s protection of the Ukraine disaster at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine