In Bulgaria, Ukrainian diaspora mobilises to help refugees flee

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By Euronews
Refugees fleeing the conflict from neighboring Ukraine are transported by bus in the border town of Przemysl, Poland,
Refugees fleeing the conflict from neighboring Ukraine are transported by bus in the border town of Przemysl, Poland,   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Petr David Josek

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has left many from the country’s diaspora worried about the safety of their loved ones. Now they are trying their best to help.

Maxim Dimitrov currently lives in Sofia, Bulgaria, but his entire family is in Ukraine. He blames Russian President Vladimir Putin personally for the grave situation and suggests many -- including members of his family -- will continue to resist the invasion.

"I think this insanity that is happening due to one person is horrific and I believe that people have the wits in their head to think soberly enough and assess the situation," Dimitrov said.

"Many [Ukrainians] are fighting for their land because they don't want anyone to liberate them from anything. I don't understand what we need to be liberated from."

Some have been lucky to get out. Tatiana Arnaudova arrived in Varna, in Bulgaria, as she fled the war.

"My husband is in Ukraine, my family is in Ukraine and all my friends. My husband was born in Ukraine and he has his parents there. He wants to defend his land, his business, everything," Arnaudova said.

Diaspora organisations rally to ensure safety of compatriots

Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes due to the outbreak of war.

Currently, men between the ages of 18-60 are banned from leaving the country due to war needs. Therefore, it is mainly women, children and the elderly who are fleeing.

Recently, it has felt like much of Ukraine has been uprooted and in a permanent state of movement, said Krasimir Pankovski from the Union of Ukrainian Organisations in Bulgaria.

Pankovski is organising volunteers to drive to the Ukrainian-Polish border, to help refugees enter the EU safely.

"We've organized to take emergency people because they are letting women and children cross the Polish border on foot at the moment. We want to help them and bring them to Bulgaria," he said.

"The situation is that Ukraine is on fire right now. There is no one to seek help from, the Western world seems to me to be reacting poorly, the only way is to organize ourselves and act."

As the Ukrainian diaspora in Bulgaria and elsewhere mobilises, EU states bordering Ukraine have seen a significant influx of refugees over the past few days. Poland’s government alone said it received over 100,000 people from Ukraine in the last 48 hours.