Ukrainian Refugees Realize They Won't Be Back Home Anytime Soon

While some Ukrainian refugees plan to make new lives abroad, many others are biding their time, hoping the Russian war resolves soon.
Ukrainian refugee Taisiia Mokrozub holds her son Hordii.
Posted at 2:41 PM, Aug 22, 2022

As Russia's invasion of Ukraine reaches the sixth-month mark, many refugees are coming to the bitter realization that they will not be returning home soon.

With shelling around a nuclear power plant and missiles even threatening the western regions of Ukraine, many refugees don't feel safe at home, even if their homes are under Ukrainian control.

Though some plan to make new lives abroad, many are simply biding their time, waiting for the end of a war that shows no signs of ending soon, longing for home and refusing to think too far into the future.

On March 8, nearly two weeks after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Taisiia Mokrozub took her infant boy, parted from her husband and joined the exodus of people fleeing to safety in Poland.

She believed the war would end quickly, and that she would be home by May.

But with shelling near a nuclear power plant in her hometown of Zaporizhzhia, and the frontline so close by, the 36-year-old's husband has told her to stay in Poland.

She now dreams of being home by winter, hoping Ukraine will have prevailed by then against Russia's brutal onslaught.

"It seems to me, that not only for me, but for all Ukrainians, time has stopped. We all live in a some kind of limbo," she said.

Russia's invasion displaced millions of people, creating the largest human exodus since World War II.

The UN refugee agency says it is one of the largest forced displacement crises in the world today, with a third of Ukrainians forced from their homes.

The UNHCR says there are over 6.6 million people displaced within the country and over 6.6 million refugees across Europe.

Notably European countries have welcomed them without the political backlash triggered by refugees from the Middle East and Africa in past years.

Poland, the largest country on Ukraine's border, has welcomed the most, with an estimated 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees having registered for national ID numbers that allow them social benefits.

"We didn't want to go further," said Galina Inyutina, a 42-year-old who arrived in Poland in early March from Dnipro with her 11-year-old son. They long terribly for their forests and fields and food.

"Mom, if we go further away then it will take us longer to get home," he told her.

The arrival of so many people has exacerbated a preexisting housing crisis in Warsaw, where rental prices have surged 30% over last year, and in other cities that have attracted many refugees.

Siemens, the global technology company, transformed office spaces at its Polish headquarters, creating hotel-style accommodation for nearly 160 people that is administered by the city government.

The facility is clean, with food and laundry facilities provided for free.

Among those living there now is Ludmila Fedotova, a 52-year-old from Zaporizhzhia, who couldn't find any other place to live.

She is terrified about what is happening at home but can at least relax knowing she and has housing and food as she looks for work.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.