Hanna’s mother returned from Tübingen to Kharkiv in Ukraine in mid-June 2022, to a destroyed house. Many of her friends are also in the process of returning to the city, where Russian missiles are still hitting. About a third of the Ukrainian population has fled after the escalation of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine since 24 February 2022. Of the approximately 44 million Ukrainians, more than seven million arrived in European countries outside Ukraine, while another seven million or so remained inside Ukraine. This was reported by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in its Update on the Situation of Ukraine No. 28 of 2 September 2022.
The Ukrainian regional office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), another UN agency, told tünews INTERNATIONAL upon request on 31 August that about six million of these refugees have returned to their homes since the Russian attacks began on 24 February. Of these, most had returned from Ukrainian places of refuge, and about 15 per cent from abroad, which would be about 900,000 people. These figures have political significance and are disputed. For example, the Ukrainian ambassador Andrij Melnyk claimed in a “talk” with the German BILD newspaper “Die richtigen Fragen” in June that more refugees were returning to Ukraine than were entering Germany. He said that people here should think about why many Ukrainians “have no desire to stay here”. In contrast, people from Ukraine interviewed by tünews INTERNATIONAL expressed their gratitude.
Hanna’s mother went back to Tübingen after two months for other reasons. In Kharkiv, the mother was afraid, but it was her home. And that is where she went back, like many other people. Hanna tells of a colleague of her mother’s whom she met after her return. She had bought a magnolia bush before starting work and wanted plant it in his garden. And this despite the fact that Russian soldiers were firing into two districts of the city on the same morning. Hanna: “That is strength of character and the ability to rejoice in life no matter what. This is Kharkiv. This is Ukraine!”
Kriegsgebiet in der Ukraine. Zerstörte Gebäude. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL/ Yana Rudenko.