UKRAINIAN refugees celebrate their Independence Day six months after the start of the Russian invasion.
Today is half a year since the beginning of the war, when thousands of Ukrainians fled their homes to seek help in Britain.
The six-month anniversary of the invasion also falls on Ukraine’s Independence Day, making it particularly poignant for refugees across Sussex, including around 400 in Brighton.
Many will pray for their families and loved ones who are still in the country, while other refugees continue to need support to find work and homes.
Councilor Alistair McNair said: “Many Ukrainian refugees have husbands preparing to fight who have never fought before. It is unimaginable what they are going through.
“Brighton was very welcoming. I got to know most of the hosts and Ukrainians in my community and there weren’t many problems at all.
“However, they are very concerned about where they will be living in the next six months. We need hosts to get in touch.”
Cllr McNair lived and worked as an English teacher in Kyiv for about eight years, where he met and married his wife Tetiana.
A few months after the invasion, the couple took in his mother-in-law.
Cllr McNair says the experience was enriching and made him understand what refugees and hosts are going through.
His wife Tetiana said: “People are partying but there is an order to stay indoors. It’s a day of hope.
“The people of Brighton and Hove have really supported us. Everyone here feels safe and welcome.”
“It’s much more optimistic in Ukraine. I find that very inspiring.”
Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February with soldiers and tanks, storming Kyiv and eastern cities under international condemnation.
Many who remain in the country have been hiding in bomb shelters amid shelling and attacks that have recently focused on the Crimea and Donetsk regions.
Host families took in refugees under the government-established Homes for Ukraine program. This allowed Ukrainian refugees a three-year visa to live and work in the UK.
However, many of these refugees are now looking for new places to live, with initial host family arrangements only lasting six months.
Brighton and Hove City Council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty said: “On Ukrainian Independence Day we must all call for peace and an end to the conflict. Six months later, our thoughts are with all affected by the military aggression against Ukraine.
“I would like to thank everyone who has volunteered to help in any way for their generous support. This has ranged from welcoming guests fleeing Ukraine to offering translation, food, necessities and assistance when children arrive in town.
“We are proud of our long history of solidarity and welcoming of refugees. We remain committed to providing a compassionate and supportive response to all those fleeing devastating circumstances.”
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/20737525.ukraine-refugees-brighton-mark-six-months-war/?ref=rss Ukraine refugees in Brighton mark six months of war