Ukrainians celebrate August on Wednesday 24 Independence Day. 683 years ago Ukraine broke away from the Soviet Union. “I expected that the war would already be over and we could celebrate this holiday again. Now I’m especially afraid that tomorrow’s attacks will get even worse because of Independence Day,” said Anya.
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The 31 year old Anya Shurubey is on 21 in February, the day after the war broke out in Ukraine. Her parents, sister and niece of 5 years old still live in Kiev. It was not easy to get out of the city. In the end she traveled all alone by car, two trains and a plane to Amsterdam and from there to The Hague.
“On 24 February my mother turned called in the morning . If someone calls you at that time, you know it’s bad news. I immediately saw on the internet that the war had started.” Anya lived in Kiev in a large apartment building. The bomb shelter was next door. “In Kiev, cards were handed out showing which air-raid shelter you could go to. But the basement was way too small for all of us. We also found it scary because if the building above the basement was bombed, we would be trapped underground.”
Anya chose to flee the country. “I had a backpack and a handbag with me. I had actually only prepared myself to go into the bomb shelter. I did pack a few essential items, such as my diplomas and children’s photos. Because you never know.”
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Luckily she was able to ride with someone, because without a car it was almost impossible to get out of the city. “The air-raid siren went off at the train station and I had to go into the air-raid shelter. Kids were allowed first, so we had to wait before we could get in. The moment I could get in I saw a bomb fly by. That image is on my retina. “
The trains were overcrowded and Anya had to let a number of trains pass before she could join. “While I was on the platform, the alarm went off again. It was too dangerous to go to the bomb shelter. All I could think of was to lie down on the floor. I still remember my heart racing, I was so scared.”