By work experience reporter Margo Bewley (Royal Harbour Academy)
On May 27, 18-year-old Alina Nosar travelled alone from Eastern Ukraine to live here in Thanet.
As a second year student in economic cybernetics, she was studying in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, but like her hometown of Zaporizhzhia, it’s now a perpetual war zone.
Her journey started in February when she and her boyfriend Eduard had to flee Kharkiv with what they could carry and embarked on a long journey across Ukraine. Starting on foot, they then got a lift to Dnipro where they got a train to Lviv, which took 18 hours in cramped conditions with nowhere to sit. They were lucky enough to find a shelter there in a telecommunications building.
Alina’s father, Vladimir, is in the Ukraine special forces, fighting for their country like thousands of others. The rest of her family, her mother Svitlana, sister Elena, grandmother Tatiana, with their cat Dayna, fled to Poland after their own perilous journey across the country.
Thanks to a friend of Vlad’s, Zena Merton from Margate, Alina applied for a visa to come and stay in the UK. Within a whirlwind month she travelled from Ukraine to the UK, arrived at Luton airport and is now living with my family and I (Margo).
To begin with, it was a challenge to adapt to new food, currency and of course, a new language. Having studied two years of English, Alina was apprehensive of speaking the language for the first time.
She said “It was hard to connect with people and I felt very alone.”
Since then however, she has found a job at Ala Turka restaurant in Ramsgate and now has found friends and people to rely on.
As part of Alina’s host family I really admire how well she socialises despite everything. It must have taken an immense amount of courage to do the things she has done in the last few months.
Alina’s boyfriend Eduard is still at the shelter in Lviv. He wants to come to the UK but says he can’t find a sponsor because he’s a man. He is also a student at a French university.
In the future Alina would like to be reunited with Eduard here in Thanet.
Alina said: “I really enjoy living in Thanet, with my friends, job, host family and their lovely dogs!”
On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014. The invasion caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, with more than 8.4 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced.
The invasion began when Russian president Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” to “demilitarise Ukraine. Minutes later, missiles and airstrikes hit across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv. A large ground invasion followed from multiple directions.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy enacted martial law and a general mobilisation of all male Ukrainian citizens between 18 and 60, who were banned from leaving the country. Russian attacks were initially launched on a northern front from Belarus towards Kyiv, a north-eastern front towards Kharkiv, a southern front from Crimea, and a south-eastern front from Luhansk and Donetsk.
During March, the Russian advance towards Kyiv stalled. Amidst heavy losses and strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian troops retreated from Kyiv Oblast by 3 April. On 19 April, Russia launched a renewed attack on Donbas, with simultaneous missile attacks directed at Kyiv in the north and Lviv in western Ukraine.
The invasion has received widespread international condemnation. The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the invasion and demanding a full withdrawal of Russian forces. The International Court of Justice ordered Russia to suspend military operations and the Council of Europe expelled Russia. Many countries imposed sanctions on Russia, which have affected the economies of Russia and the world, and provided humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine.
Protests occurred around the world; those in Russia were met with mass arrests and increased media censorship, including a ban on the words “war” and “invasion”. The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into crimes against humanity in Ukraine since 2013, as well as war crimes in the 2022 invasion.
Welcome, Alina (and a very well-written and researched article Margo!).
Unfortunately things are getting worst not better!! We have similar situations in various continents! These are the results of war and their leadership, no matter how much you criticise our government we can say that our government look after its own people, we have people from Afghanistan, Africa and now Eastern European ,who also need our help but how can we help them all? We British are already under grave financial upheaval, let me wish this young Ukrainian girl all the best and I hope her dreams come true.
Due to cretins in the Home Office, not all teen refugees get here! A couple of weeks ago or so Yvette Cooper MP in the House of Commons spoke of two Ukraine sisters who applied for visas, one was 18, the other 13, and guess what the Home Office did, they gave a visa to the 18 year old, and not the 13 year, who had to return to war torn Ukraine, Duurh.
I support several refugee charities monthly by DD, and make additional donations as and when funds are available. It can be done over the phone, so donate to Refugee Action on 0800 141 2426. Or try UNICEF the children’s charity on 0300 034 9992 or 0300 330 5580.
Alina its so nice to hear that even with problems with the language barrier and loneliness to start with your managing to settle in well here in Thanet, a sincerely heartfelt welcome from us all. I hope that you will be able soon to be reunited with your family and boyfriend, the whole of Thanet is behind Ukraine in their war against Putin. Also a great article Margo, well written and insightful, looking forward to hopefully seeing more reports from you in the future and that your career in journalism really takes off.
Welcome,Alina.I hope your stay is both happy and productive.
Hopefully,in the not too distant future,you will be able to return to a safe and independent Ukraine.
Welcome Alina, I hope things go as well as they can for you & all the others.
Poor girl ending up in thanet. Possibly the most deprived dangerous place in the South East. Not far off a war zone in margate.
Stupid comment. Get a life. Please tell us where would you rather live ? No, just go there, and get a ” better life “
Well said Paul.
What a crass comment
My name is also Alina from Ukraine and I’m living in Ramsgate.
It would be nice to meet you and have coffee sometime.
The history of the West’s influences via regime change in 2014 is the thing to study. Plus the many bio weapon labs developed and acknowledged by the US government, with their inherent dangers to humanity, money laundering from the West etc etc. And even the Guardian acknowledged the neo nazis. in Ukraine at that time. There’s a lot of excellent reporting on the ground, but it won’t make the pages of the corporate mainstream media funnily enough. A snippet of history here: https://www.wsws.org/en/topics/event/2014-coup-ukraine
Amazing story of courage and generosity! Welcome Alina and thank you Margo for bringing her story to us. Good luck to all involved.