Among those fleeing the Russia-Ukraine war, which led to the largest mass migration to Europe since World War II, are three Ukrainians who have lived in northern Cyprus for about 10 years and moved to Ukraine with their children shortly before the war. There is also a woman.
Lesia Uysal, Yulia Özger and Maryna Yablonovska TAK shared their experiences in Ukraine and their escape to northern Cyprus.
The Russia-Ukraine War, which, like every war, brought human tragedy and migration, began on February 24, 2022 with Russia’s military operation in the Donbass region of Ukraine.
Lesia Usal: “Our town was bombed too”
Lesia Wisal went to the Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih to process her passport with her 16-year-old twin son and her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Uysal, who had planned to stay there until March 24, flew to the Romanian border to return to Cyprus on March 3 due to the war and was able to reach the island within 6 days.
“On the 24th, my mother woke me up and told me that the war had started,” said Lesia Wisal, explaining that the war broke out while she was staying at her family’s home in Krievi Rih. We were shocked … A few hours later, our town was also bombed. “I had to get my children out of the country,” he said.
Uysal said they heard the sound of sirens and missiles constantly on the Kryvyi Rih that they did not know where they would fall. But 2-3 days later in Kryvyi Rih, the Ukrainian army defeated the Russian army, “he said.
“Know Zelensky, he can’t escape.”
Noting that they had moved to the Romanian border about 500 kilometers from Creevi Reh on March 3, but they could reach the border in 3 days, Wisal said the Red Crescent had greeted them at the border and they were staying at a church. For one night in Romania. Uysal said they then went to Istanbul by bus and arrived in Cyprus on the 6th day of their journey.
Wisal said where his family lives is dangerous and he is very worried for his family, and he did not turn on the television so that his children could not watch the war.
Expressing confidence that Ukraine would emerge victorious from the war, Wisal said: “Russia thought Zelensky would flee and the incident would end soon. But I studied at the same university with Zelensky, I know him, he doesn’t run away. “I want an end to the war and I believe Ukraine will win,” he said.
Yulia Ozgar: “I heard the sound of missiles … we know the war has started”
Yulia Ozgar, who had traveled to the town of Sumi, about 30 kilometers from the Russian border in Ukraine, saw her husband, her 4-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and her 9-month-old son go to Cyprus on January 30, but she decided to stay with the children for a while longer. However, Ozgar, whose children are Turkish citizens because of his wife, had to stay in Ukraine longer than he expected.
Ozgar, who plans to return to Cyprus at the end of February after finishing work on his 9-month-old son’s passport, said he had heard that war might break out, but he did not believe it.
Rumors of an attack continued to rise in mid-February, and Ozgar said they had bought items such as candles, flour and sugar as a precaution. “Sumi is an area near the border,” Ozgar said. On the morning of February 24, I woke up my parents to the sound of a missile. We realized that the war had begun, we were terrified. My family said ‘take the kids now’. As I was packing, my dad came out of the house to arrange a car for us. Later, my father came back home and said that no one can go anywhere, they can’t get gas, there are long queues where there is gas and it is dangerous to go on the road. “
“I counted to 37, I don’t remember later”
Explaining that on the first day of the war, he saw a convoy of Russian military vehicles entering Ukraine through the windows of their house in Sumi on the Russian border and said:
“We saw the Russian convoy start moving through our kitchen windows. My mother lost herself. She was so scared, she was crying. The first caravan passed at 08:45 in the morning. They were passing by our house. We do not know how many vehicles have left. A few hours later, the second caravan began to move. I started counting the tools from the kitchen, I counted 37, then I don’t know, I don’t remember, I started crying. Then our neighbor said there were 170 cars in the second convoy. In the afternoon, the third convoy left, the third convoy had more than 300 military vehicles.
“I can’t come without Azad’s help …”
Yulia Ozgar, who had been near the Russian border for about two weeks during the war, left for Cyprus on March 8 with her two children.
Explaining that he had contacted the Turkish consulate in Kiev to leave Ukraine and that he had followed the consulate on Instagram and viewed the announcements, Ozgar said he had been able to return to help a 19-year-old Turkish student named Azad. In Cyprus.
Yulia Ozgar describes her escape from Ukraine as follows:
“I called the Turkish consulate in Kiev and told them that my two children are Turkish citizens, they told us to hide and they would tell us. After that we didn’t get any news. When we went to the shelter, internet and phone were not working in any way.
Following the news on the consulate page on Instagram, the Turkish student named Azad said, ‘We are still in Sumi. When will you accept us? ‘ I saw you commented. I sent a message to the boy, asking him to let me know. I wouldn’t have come if the boy hadn’t helped me. “
“We’re leaving at 12; The Russians fired on us. “
“Azad then called me and told me that the consulate had told them when and where to go. He gave me the address, we went there. The first bus left, the second would leave at 12 o’clock, we were about to leave at that time, but the Russians fired at us. We went to town. Then we come back and start leaving town around 2-3 o’clock.
Noting that they had left with the yellow bus, Ozgar said that after a while they stopped, got on the bus with the Turkish license plate, continued on their way, and left for the Romanian border.
Ozgar said that after waiting 6 hours at the Romanian border, they again went to Bulgaria and ate at a mosque there and then went to Istanbul.
“We left on March 8, we arrived in Istanbul on March 12,” Ozgar said, adding that they had traveled from Istanbul to Adiyaman and stayed with his wife’s family for two weeks before returning to Cyprus.
Marina Yablonovska: “Church bells were ringing instead of sirens in this area”
Marina Yablovska traveled to Poltava, Ukraine, with her 7-month-old son and 6-year-old daughter to visit her family, whom she had not seen in over a year. Yablovska, who received a return ticket to northern Cyprus on 27 February, had to stay in Poltava for a while after the start of the war.
Yablonovskaya, also a TRNC citizen, said that when he decided to visit his family, some of his relatives warned him not to go, adding that he had checked the Russian media before leaving for Ukraine and did not believe there would be a war. . Broke out
However, Yablovska said he was hesitant about whether to go until the last day, saying, “I did not believe it could happen and I went.”
“I thought I would never be able to return to Cyprus.”
Yablovska said he learned of the fighting on the morning of February 24 from his brother, who lives in Kiev, and said that when he looked outside, he saw Russian drones flying around him.
Yablonovskaya said that on the first day of the war, there were rows in the market and he could only find one packet of baby food, adding that he did not know how long he would have to stay in Ukraine that day and he was worried. Can’t find enough food for her baby.
Noting that there are no sirens in Poltava, Yablovska said that church bells are ringing in the area instead of sirens.
Yablovska, who spent three days in Poltava after the war began, said he was under a lot of pressure and thought he could not return to Cyprus.
“I gave my daughter sleeping pills.”
Noting that the airports were closed and he could not return to Cyprus on the planned day, Yablovska explained the difficult 6-and-a-half-day journey with two children from Ukraine to Romania, from Romania to Turkey and from Turkey to northern Cyprus:
“On the morning of March 2, we drove from Poltava and crossed the Romanian border to the Romanian town of Chernevisi. From there on March 5 we went to Istanbul by bus arranged by TRNC and TR Foreign Ministry. We arrived in Cyprus on the evening of March 8th. It was hard with two kids. My daughter got sick on the trip and vomited. I gave her sleeping pills, she’s always asleep … “
“We are scared,” said Yablovska, whose family is still in Poltava. We don’t know when or where the bombs will fall, “he said.
Speaking about tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Yablovskaya said he believed Russia wanted to destroy Ukraine.
“They want the land in Ukraine to be theirs,” Yablovskaya said. But Ukrainians want to be European, to be independent. “Russia has an oppressive regime, anyone who speaks out is imprisoned, but we Ukrainians can speak as we wish, we are free,” he said.