Ukrainians living in Leeds, Yorkshire, have come together to raise money for the humanitarian aid relief fund as their fears grow for family members in their homeland
Ukrainians living in the UK have spoken of their grief having been left “confused and helpless” as their country is ripped apart by war.
One family in Leeds, Yorkshire, say they have been “crying all day” as they worry about those close to them after Russia invaded their homeland, Leeds Live report.
The attack began after a pre-dawn TV address on Thursday, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded Ukraine’s military lay down its arms.
Fierce fighting has continued as the Kremlin’s forces move in on Ukrainian capital Kyiv, with citizens being handed guns to defend their country.
Ukrainian families met up in Leeds to come together and raise money for their country-people, as missiles reigned down across the Eastern European country.
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Families met in the Leeds Ukrainian Community Centre, raising £237 between them to send over as humanitarian aid relief.
This comes after the center previously raised £10,000, towards medicine, according to community leaders.
Viacheslav Semeniuk, 39, who has lived in Leeds for seven years, told his fellow Ukrainians to “not sit on your butts and to show solidarity.”
He attended with his wife Olga and their eight-year-old daughter Arina.
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The Semeniuks have lots of family in Ukraine, the couple fear for their parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews. There was an explosion close to Viacheslav’s mother’s house which “shook the building”.
Viacheslav said: “Since the morning today, everyone feels confused and helpless about the situation. We can’t do much, maybe send some money.
“We are worried about our family’s lives.”
Iuliia Leonova, 41, and her husband Sergii Shramko, 40, attended with their child. They are from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev (Kyiv) where much of the conflict has occurred.
Iuliia spoke of how her mother and sister were not even safe enough to stay under their own roof and have had to evacuate into a shelter to stay overnight.
“I’ve been crying all day,” Iuliia gasped.
Leeds Live/MEN Media)
Sergii, who works as a security analyst, said: “She feels helpless, it’s the only thing we can do. That and getting the information.”
The couple, who have lived in Leeds for seven years, added whilst their family sleep in a shelter back home in Ukraine, they’ll hardly be able to sleep a wink.
Oleksandra and Victor Shymygol, 55, are worried about their daughter, 28, who lives in Ukraine with her fiance.
Victor, a handyman, said: “I could not sleep all day from about 5am.”
Oleksandra, an advocacy worker, said: “We couldn’t believe something like this could happen. We were really shocked.”
The couple, who have lived in Leeds since 2016, opened up about their daughter who was in Kiev and who is now swiftly moving away from the capital.
Leeds Live/MEN Media)
Oleksandra said: “Our daughter is trying not to panic. We are worried about her. We’re going through a war. I’m worried she will get hurt. We’re hoping she’ll be safe when she gets to where my mother is.
“My mother is alone, I’m happy she is going to stay with her and then I hope they will be safe.”
Viktoriia Slyka, 21, has been in the UK for only five days, since Saturday (February 19), and was in Kiev just last week to secure her visa.
The business student has come over to study at Leeds Beckett University as part of an Erasmus scheme, a four month programme.
Speaking about the mood in Kiev just last week, Viktoriia said: “You could feel that war was very close. When I went there for two days, everyone was talking about the upcoming war.
“People were making like different plans, asking each other ‘What should we do in case the war starts?'”
“It was very tense but everyone was continuing a regular life.”
Viktoriia is worried about her mother who lives in a large tower block in the capital. Her mother de ella fortunately has a large bomb shelter built into the bottom of her building and has promised her daughter de ella she will go down there “at the first sound of sirens”.
She said: “I was very worried when I heard a helicopter was hit in Kiev. I started calling her but she said it was a bit further away from her than I expected.
“I’m worried also because her building is next to a dam, so if a missile hits the water, it’s scary.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.