“Our home is Ukraine,” are the voices of refugees fleeing Trieste

Nostalgia and nostalgia run out of money and a language barrier that makes it impossible to find work: these are some of the reasons that push many refugees to return to Ukraine, even if the war is far from over. A growing but difficult to quantify phenomenon, explained Prefect Annunziato Vardè: “We are monitoring refugees in reception structures, where the situation is virtually stable, but we have no way of counting the returns of those who, for example, have found hospitality. from relatives or friends. However, I have received news from associations that many are returning, including Kiev. “Ukrainians leaving the war probably intend to return as soon as possible. It is a different phenomenon from the Balkan route, which migrants arrive to stay.” A Balkan route that, as every year, intensifies with rising temperatures and, as the Casa Malala structure is occupied by Ukrainian refugees, the reception system in Trieste is put to the test.

Defy the bombs

The refugees returning from the Julian capital are heading mainly to the west of the country because the war is concentrated in the Donbas area and in the south, but there are those who have decided to defy the bombs in areas that are still “hot” because they are there. And he wants to make every sacrifice for them. This is the case of two women we interviewed: Natalia, who has just returned to Mykolaiv, in southern Ukraine, and Olga, who intends to return. Both cities are currently under Russian bombardment.

The story of Natalia

Natalia Matskevich arrived here on April 10 from Mykolaiv, a twin city with Trieste in a humanitarian aid program run by the Municipality. In her early fifties, she had to leave behind her son, husband and father. In a little while he was able to learn a little Italian and he says that “Trieste is like a homeland for me, I found wonderful people who supported me a lot. I was forced to leave the country because my city was heavily bombed and I was hosted by some of my acquaintances. I brought my four cats with me, because the Ukrainians do not abandon their pets. Now I’m back in Mykolaiv because the war will be long and I could not stay very far from them. At some point I had to choose whether to go home or find a job here. “Many of my compatriots want to stay here forever, but I can not. My home and family are in Ukraine.”

It is not an easy choice, especially if you return to a city that has changed a lot in three months: “Returning was scary. Here in Mykolaiv we live in agony, we are bombarded every day. This morning our stadium was hit and fortunately everyone is alive, but somewhere else a house was hit and three adults and a child died. “A week ago, a bomb attack killed three people and injured 60.” A return that brings with it a mission: “I participated as a volunteer in the twinning program between Trieste and Mykolaiv – Natalia explains – and, returning home, I brought money and help to our soldiers. “This help will not be enough for many, maybe it would be better to help specific people and not send help to the city in a general way.”

The story of Olga

Olga, on the other hand, is anxiously awaiting her return to Kyiv. She is 38 years old and arrived in Trieste with her young son on March 10. “When I left Kyiv – he says – on the train the tension was high, many people were standing, others were sitting in their luggage, we headed to Lviv. Outside the windows, the terrifying sight of armed soldiers. We were afraid that someone would blow up the bridges through which the trains pass and in this case we could not leave, as Kyiv is divided on two banks of the river. The sirens kept ringing and before we decided to leave we spent the night in an air raid shelter. “

In Trieste, the welcome machine was ready and efficient and the city left a great memory for this family run: “When I arrived in Trieste, my son and I were welcomed by a volunteer and an Italian family took me overnight. The next day we were placed in a Caritas facility. I love Trieste, it is ancient and beautiful, Muggia is very hospitable and colorful, but here we are foreigners, our home is Ukraine, even if, when I return, I will miss Italy very much “.

Lately, Olga explains, the situation in the Ukrainian capital seemed to have calmed down, until a few days ago. Now, after the intensity of the bombing, the idea of ​​returning before the start of the next school year is increasingly frightening. However, Olga explains, “My husband and my parents are waiting for me in Ukraine, it is very difficult to stay at a distance, as it is difficult for my son to study in an Italian school. Even for me it is not easy, here he has a little work, while in Ukraine I have a small hotel and I work alone. “Unfortunately, we do not know how the situation will develop and how the Ukrainian air defense will work. A missile can arrive at any time and no one knows where.”

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