How Ukraine war survivors are rebuilding their lives

Their lives have changed forever

In the aftermath of terrible tragedy, they arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs, families torn apart, homes in ruins and futures in doubt. Against all odds, a growing number of survivors are finding the strength to rebuild their lives in neighbouring countries, their stories a testament to the resilience of humanity.

As the war in Ukraine approaches its 800th day, Russia’s full-scale invasion continues to cause immense devastation and suffering. But the consequences of the war will last long after the fighting has stopped. Survivors who have fled conflict often continue to face a range of post-migration stressors, including unemployment, poverty, social isolation and uncertainty about their legal status. There is ample evidence of the devastating impact of war on the mental health of citizens.

“I don’t think there’s a Ukrainian who hasn’t had to deal with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Of course, it doesn’t help that we’ve entered the third year of the war and the atrocities are still going on. So I think it’s going to be a very long recovery period for everyone,” said Inna Nykyforova, a Ukrainian expatriate in the UK.

Inna Nykyforova came to the UK before the conflict. Photo: Gokul Aanandh Bhoopathy

Inna Nykyforova, a single mother who emigrated to the UK before the conflict began, was born and raised in Ukraine. According to her memories, her home country was peaceful and beautiful. She felt the effects of the conflict even though she was not in a high-risk area.

“I know that the shock traumatised me, and unfortunately I think I speak for every Ukrainian,” she said. “Nobody sleeps well at night, and we all have the alarm system on our phones, because we all know how many times a challenge has happened in life, in any given time”.

Beyond the human tragedy, the invasion has taken an incalculable toll on the environment. Forests have been burned, wetlands torn apart by tanks and nature reserves damaged. The Ukrainian government estimates that the war has caused billions of dollars of damage to the country’s water, air and land resources.The conflict has disrupted conservation efforts and made it difficult for Ukrainians to find solace in nature, with birdwatchers even suspected of being spies.

“This is not a terrorist operation. It’s preparation for something much bigger. And even some of the cities that were occupied, they managed to kick them out, like Mariupol, now it’s nothing but trouble,” said Nykyforova.

The journey to rebuild their lives in neighbouring countries is often fraught with prejudice and challenges, making assimilation and access to necessary resources difficult. Immigrants, especially refugees and non-English speakers, face numerous obstacles, including finding suitable housing, employment, healthcare, education and legal support. Finding adequate housing is a major challenge, jeopardising their safety and integration into their new communities. In addition, despite having the necessary skills and qualifications, non-English speaking immigrants often struggle to find stable employment, leaving many in low-paid, insecure jobs.

Among them is the story of Igor Bahnyuk, a Ukrainian refugee who fled to the UK to protect his family from the ravages of war. Igor’s journey to safety was driven by a single purpose: to provide a safe environment for his beloved wife amidst the chaos of war.

Despite the language barrier, Igor’s determination to make a new home for his family in the UK knows no bounds. “I wanted to take my wife to a safe place,” said Igor, speaking through a translator from the Ukraine Relief Centre, where he now volunteers. “We were living in fear of constant rocket fire. Now we are here.”

Igor’s story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the lengths to which people will go to protect those they love.

In the face of adversity, he stands as a beacon of hope, embodying the resilience of the Ukrainian people.

Igor Bahnyuk (left), who volunteers at the Ukraine Relief Centre now, fled Ukraine when the conflict began. Photo: Gokul Aanandh Bhoopathy

Amid the turmoil of conflict in Ukraine, many brave souls have fled their homeland in search of safety and a better future. Among them is Iryna, a student at Bournemouth University, whose journey to the UK was fraught with challenges.

For Iryna, the decision to leave Ukraine was a matter of survival. Faced with the uncertainty of war, she embarked on a journey full of legal hurdles and immigration complexities.

Despite the challenges, Iryna remains determined to continue her education and build a better future for herself.

“The UK has done amazing things, opening the homes of thousands of families to Ukrainians [and] providing us with amazing help with documents,” Iryna said.

In light of the current global refugee crisis, the inspiring stories of survivors like Inna Nykyforova, Igor Bahnyuk and Iryna are a poignant reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. Despite the enormous obstacles they face, these people have managed to rebuild their lives and those of others, making significant contributions to their new communities and encouraging others to follow in their footsteps.

Related Posts