From the boundary East to the far West


Settlers from Donbass want to work, worry about family and do not know when they will return home.

According to the official data as to the number of the inhabitants of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts escaping from the war in the East moved to the Transcarpathia, now there are about 150 people. Mostly these are women and children. Currently, only about ten families plan to stay and live in Transcarpathia. Others are waiting for the completion of fighting to return home: to Luhansk, Kramatorsk, Donetsk or Slavyansk.

On request to comment present life in Transcarpathia they shrink, they become flustered and as a result the majority still refuses to comment “officially”. No matter that it is not necessary to tell the names, take pictures or get into the shot of the camera. At a meeting with public activists and journalists, which recently took place in Uzhgorod, some immigrants just sat aside to the far end of the room: there was an agreement with the journalists – persons sitting there do not wish to be photographed. Soon a woman from Slovyansk explains: “You just cannot imagine how much we are frightened; our parents, husbands, relatives are still there” …

However, those who finally do start to talk, say that they are treated very well here. Transcarpathians, mostly these are volunteers, try to help them in everything. In particular, the women residing now in a hotel “Hostynnyi Dim” (Uzhgorod NGO “Neemia” takes care of them) tells that they assist them as “friends.”

Although, the Internet has recently heated debate going on about the “impudent eastern settlers” who as if require any special attitude towards themselves as well as conditions, so the first impression of people coming to the meeting – they are quiet, confused and a bit shy .

When we asked about the appearance of topics about “bad” refugees, the settlers do not know what to say at all. Because, the majority of them hear about it for the first time. So people are genuinely shocked: why someone needs to act in such a way. They say that people in Transcarpathia are very good, they have not heard of any complaints or misunderstandings in Uzhgorod, neither from friends or relatives moving temporarily to other Ukrainian cities.

Daria speaks to the reporters more willingly – a primary school teacher from Donetsk. Her parents and brother left at home, her brother enlisted to the battalion “Donbass”. The woman worries about them very much, but she has decided for herself to stay in Uzhgorod. Daria speaks Ukrainian well, she was dressed in blue and yellow colors, and there is a tattoo of Trident of times of Ukrainan National Republic on her hand. By the way, the tattoo-master, who once made Daryna arms of Ukraine, was killed while fighting on the side of the separatists … The girl says that she just does not understand what happened to him. I asked her how she feels to be far away from her close persons – she answers that she feels herself free and safe, which had been long ago.

Father Olexander, who also came from the East, strongly encourages and supports country fellows, but he was also on the other side of the barricade: his sister warmly supports “Novorussia.” All those present at the meeting are having similar stories. The man rises from his place and tells that he cannot find a job: the company, being worked at, was destroyed during one of the attacks, employment records book burned – that is why Employment Centre does not want to register him in Uzhgorod. Even the car, which he could save, he is not able to sell, in order to be registered he must pay a lot of money, which he does not have. He says that he is ready to work anywhere, although he worked with wood before, because her wife has cancer.

They do not complain at the meeting and especially they do not demand anything, they tell carefully about their difficulties and ask for advice how to deal with them. The biggest problem is the dwelling. So the first question – whether there is some social housing in Uzhhorod. Father Olexander says that there is no any considering what he has learned. Therefore, he offers people his help with resettlement in cheaper hostels or contact realtors that will not take them last money.

One more organization that actively assists settlers from the East is “Medical Aid Committee in Transcarpathia”. The staff of the organization is concerned about a range of issues – from providing medical and legal assistance to the organization of such acquainting meetings with media people. The representative of the organization explains at the beginning of the event that they have wished to see someone of governmental officials at the meeting. However, no official from Oblast State Administration or people from the headquarter attenden the meeting.

Instead, the journalist Galina Yartseva, actively engaged in assistance to Transcarpathian military men that are now in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, addresses to people from the East with a request not to hesitate and say if someone needs food. Because where the military men are helped, there will be always an opportunity to help the refugees.

At the end of the meeting, it was decide to put together all the questions and suggestions, and to send an inquery to the regional MPs about where and how money foreseen by the regional program “Care” is spend.

Actually, it seems that only volunteers and public activists solve the problems of displaced persons, as in the case of the Ukrainian army. Finally, I ask a woman from Slavyansk would she like to go to the Crime and stay for some time there? She looks at me with surprised eyes, “What do you mean?  We did not want to join Russia?”

Larysa Romanyuk,  “About the West