“I want to feel safe”: The Youth Orchestra of Ukraine is now a refugee | world news

By JUSTIN SPIKE, Associated Press

ZAHONY, Hungary (AP) — The violin was so beloved by Myroslava Sherbina that it was the only item she took when she fled Ukraine, along with the clothes she was wearing.

But the instrument has remained silent since the beginning of the Russian invasion of his country. “I didn’t want to play so I could hear the sirens and we could go to the air raid shelter,” said Sherbina, 20.

She is among more than 1.5 million people who have fled Ukraine in what the United Nations calls Europe’s fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II.

Sherbina spoke to The Associated Press at a train station in Hungary, one of dozens of musicians from the Ukraine Youth Symphony Orchestra who are now refugees. But that was not the end of their journey. They were on their way to Slovenia on a joint evacuation mission with a Slovenian orchestra.

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Cellos, violins, violas and other instruments lay on the train platform beside their bewildered young owners. Hours-long train delays caused by the influx of Ukrainians to the borders meant that around 30 of the musicians were still missing.

“There is a group of around 90 people coming to this particular station,” said Uros Dokl, a Slovenian volunteer who traveled the 665 kilometers (413 miles) to greet the orchestra members. “Not all of them are members of the orchestra, but they are young people who play music, and young people of course need to be guided.”

Sherbina, the violinist, said she was confident the war in Ukraine would end soon and she could go home. Until then, she will hone her skills in Slovenia, a country she has never visited.

“I want to feel safe so I can train and not think a bomb can drop and ruin my house,” she said.

Some 4 million people could flee Ukraine if the Russian offensive continues, according to the UN. On Monday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, called for the mobilization of “all resources” from the 27-nation bloc to help host countries.

Uncertainty and relief continued at the border as thousands of arriving Ukrainians were greeted by strangers offering care. Many were wrapped in blankets. Some were clutching small children. Their priorities were to secure basic necessities: food, shelter, sleep, support.

Under a canopy next to the railway station in the Hungarian border town of Zahony, Tamas Marghescu stirred a large cauldron of traditional meat stew in preparation for hundreds of starving refugees.

As an outdoor enthusiast and Hungarian director of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation, he called the meal well suited to the needs of those shivering in line for hours at the border.

“When you’re at home watching the news, you feel so helpless,” said his wife, Ilona. “And not that it’s such a big act, but it’s… important for people when they get off those trains to have someone smiling at them and to know that there are people here who care. care.”

The couple said they felt responsible for helping those who had fled. Ilona’s parents left Hungary for Australia during World War II, while Marghescu’s family fled Soviet rule twice, after the 1948 war and again after the brutal Soviet crackdown on the revolution. Hungarian of 1956.

“My parents still tell me stories about when they were refugees and they were taken care of,” Marghescu said. His wildlife organization has set up similar outdoor kitchens on the Polish, Slovak and Romanian borders with Ukraine.

“It’s a traditional meal and it’s cooked with love,” his wife said.

At the Medyka border post in Poland, a 17-year-old Polish volunteer, Zuzana Koseva, described the arriving refugees as “just very, very tired, terrified and confused because they don’t know what to expect”.

Volunteers were trying to organize food and a warm tent for them, she said. She was moved by the exhausted mothers and sometimes confused little children.

“They are happy with a candy, so it’s just amazing,” Koseva said.

A mother held a child to her chest and, closing her eyes in what might be a prayer, touched their foreheads together.

Associated Press reporters from across Europe contributed.

Follow AP coverage of the Ukraine crisis at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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