Fleeing the conflict in eastern Ukraine: 3 mothers tell their stories


‘We have passed the circle of hell.’

Tatiana is a mother of 3 who was forced to leave her hometown of Mariupol in Ukraine due to hostilities in 2015. “When the conflict began, we no longer had the strength to endure these horrors, we were afraid for the safety of our family and we decided to leave,” she says.

Arriving in Yelets, Russia, Tatiana turned to the Russian Red Cross for support. The family received vouchers to buy groceries and other necessities, as well as free healthcare services. “We have passed the circle of hell. We had nothing to sleep on: there were no pillows and bed linen, thanks to the Red Cross we got these necessary things.”

Elena with her 4 children in Lipetsk, Russia. © Arthur Bondar for IFRC, 2020.

Elena fled Horlivka, Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Since then, the family has faced many difficulties: they could not find legal work due to lack of citizenship and could not afford decent housing. “There was a time when we had to live with 10 people in one room. Work was also difficult to find and, because of the pandemic, there are even fewer opportunities to work,” says Elena.

The Red Cross supported Elena’s family with food vouchers and health insurance, as well as psychosocial support. “The help was significant. It allowed us to save money and buy furniture, take care of the paperwork – otherwise, we would not have been able to afford it,” she says.

‘Glad that they are here for us.’

Christina with her son Nikita at the Red Cross office in Volgograd, Russia. © Arthur Bondar for IFRC, 2020.

Christina, together with her husband and her young son, had to leave her hometown of Luhansk in 2014 and settled in Volgograd. To overcome the stress and find the strength to move on, Christina contacted the Russian Red Cross for psychological support.

“It helped me a lot. I had a chance to speak about my worries and issues. And my son, a child with special needs, receives psychosocial support as well: he can always come here, draw, and talk to the Red Cross staff”, she explains.

Christina also received vouchers to buy food and got legal assistance and free health insurance for Nikita through the programme. “When I come here, I feel like it is home. People who work for the Red Cross are very kind and helpful. I am very glad that they are here for us and help so many others!”

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