Host families go out of their way for Ukrainian children

Spanish families have turned to welcoming children fleeing the war in Ukraine, a humanitarian drama that already leaves more than 1.2 million refugees and that, according to the UN, could lead to the departure of four million people from the country.

“We are organizing a trip to Poland to be able to receive the two buses full of children who are going to leave Ukraine”, this is the first step that Cristóbal, a foster father with the Cadiz association, is going to take Children from Ukraine and Andalusia, to try to bring “the more children the better”. He, along with other colleagues from the board of directors, will travel to Poland to receive the buses that leave the country after the Russian invasion began nine days ago.

Poland has become one of the countries that has received the most refugees since the beginning of the war. According to UNHCR, some 649,000 people have left Ukraine heading to this country of the European Union.

Cristóbal and his wife Ana have spent years hosting nine-year-old Sofía in the summer and at Christmas. “We don’t know if she will be able to leave, the information is very confusing,” Cristobal tells Sofia lives in the Chernigov area, taken over by Russian troops on February 28.

This city in the north of the country is one of the ones that is suffering the most from attacks by Russian troops. The Ukrainian authorities have raised this Friday to 47 those killed in the Russian bombing on Thursday against a residential area of ​​the city, as reported by the General Command of the Armed Forces.

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“We talk to her every day, but at the moment we can’t do more.” Sofia, like many other children, is still trapped in Chernigov. “She tells us that he is very scared because he hears the bombings”explains this Andalusian foster parent. “We tell him not to leave the house and to stay away from the windows,” he adds. He and his wife now hopefully hope that the humanitarian corridors achieved after Thursday’s talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations will allow him to leave. Meanwhile Sofía is still unable to go out on the street or go to school.

From Poland, Cristóbal and his companions will wait for the little ones, who, as he indicates, “are very afraid, very eager to flee.” Despite all the pain, the reaction of his neighbors makes him proud: “There are many families who are turning up and want to welcome,” he says proudly.

Dolores, manager of this Andalusian NGO, confirms this: “Up to 300 families have called us.” “Our main goal is to be able to get as many children out as we can.”

“The important thing is to get them out of there”

Isabel, from Jerez de la Frontera, is one of that group of people who have not hesitated to welcome. On a regular basis, six-year-old Polina spends Christmas and summers at her house, but due to the current situation she has also decided to take in her sister Alona, ​​who turns five this Saturday.

In a statement, Unicef ​​has assured that the conflict is having a devastating impact on children Ukrainians, with millions of them affected by violence, especially given the increase in bombing in urban areas.

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“I talk to them every day, although sometimes they don’t catch it because they’re in the shelter,” she says worriedly. Before she was able to organize her departure with the association, she sent them several packages of food, clothing and money, although they never arrived. Now, thanks to a monitor, she breathes easy knowing that the little ones are traveling on one of the buses that is headed for Poland.

“The important thing is to get them out of there. They are two sisters, but as if they were three”, she explains. “The first thing I am going to do as soon as they arrive is going to be to take them for a walk and to a cafeteria that Polina loves”.

“We have received between 400 and 500 calls”

From Catalonia, the Osona amb els nens association also speaks of hundreds of calls from families interested in fostering. “We have received between 400 and 500 calls”, explains Mercè Fiol, director of the organization to

“The children all arrive this weekend, some families also come who have managed to get out whole”. From the association Since 1997 they have been hosting Ukrainian and Belarusian children who had to be displaced from their homes as a result of the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. “There are many children who already have a family, but there are many new people who have signed up now because of what is happening.”

Host families turn to Ukrainian children: “We will do the impossible to help them”

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The gestures of solidarity have not stopped repeating themselves and there are many people who call to offer any room they have at home “they call and tell us I have room for two or three”.

So far, the United Nations has confirmed the deaths of 17 children so far in the war, although that figure only includes cases that the organization has been able to verify, so it estimates that the real number is probably much higher.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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