Ukrainians in Australia anxiously await news


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Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, addressing the Australian Parliament on March 31.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia continues its violent invasion of Ukraine, with civilians being displaced, families torn apart, and contact with the outside world becoming continually limited as days go on.

According to UNHCR data, between February 24 and April 4 more than 4 million refugees had fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries so far, with numbers expected to rise.

Communication systems have been crippled across Ukraine, with basic contact such as phone calls and internet access being heavily disrupted.

Perth-based Ukrainian citizen Julia Grabovenko described losing contact with family for several days.

“All my friends and family have stayed in Ukraine and have chosen not to leave.

“My parents-in-law live in Mariupol.”

Mariupol is a port city located on the coast of the black sea and has been heavily targeted by Russian forces as a key strategic target.

“The city has been completely bombarded and when we go two days without hearing from them, you think the worst and it’s so stressful,” she said.

“My parents who live 200 kilometres from Kyiv and have spent their evenings going to and from bomb shelters in the basement of their home.

“It’s very worrying and painful to think this is going on in the place I have spent a lot of my life.”

Russia has now entered its seventh of its self-proclaimed “special military operation” and key cities, such as Mariupol and Kyiv, still standing.

Ms Grabovenko believes that the Ukrainian people are more resilient than ever.

“There is high motivation to stay, fight for the country and fight for freedom most of all.

“I know no Ukrainians who think they will lose this fight.

“The way people have united, came together, and protected each other is unbelievable.”

In the last three days, images being released from the outskirt towns of Kyiv paint a picture of the gruesome situation Ukrainian civilians are facing.

Ms Grabovenko described feeling a wide spectrum of emotions after seeing images this week of raped and killed women and children coming out of the Bucha, Gostomel and Irpin.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the Australian Parliament by video-link on Thursday, March 31, where he described the possibility of increased international threats stemming from Russia’s invasion.

“Everything that is happening in our region due to Russia’s aggression and that is destroying the lives of our people has already become a real threat to your state and your people.

“We are divided by the seas and oceans, the territories of dozens of other countries, time zones.

“But this distance simply does not exist for the cruelty and chaos that Russia has brought to Eastern Europe, to the region of our Black and Azov Seas, to our Ukrainian land,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

He added: “Whatever is happening in our region because of the Russian aggression, which is destroying the lives of people, has become a real threat to your country and to your people as well.”

On March 20, Australian Foreign Affairs Marise Payne announced additional funding that brought Australia’s defensive military assistance to the Ukraine to $91 million, while its humanitarian support contribution rose to $65 million since the beginning of the invasion.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement on March 20: “The Government will continue working closely with the Ukrainian-Australian community to ensure those arriving from Ukraine will be provided support throughout their stay in Australia.

“We have provided a grant of $450,000 to community groups to facilitate their ongoing work.

“Australia stands with the people of Ukraine, and again calls on Russia to cease its unprovoked, unjust and illegal invasion of Ukraine.”