How Practicing Muslims From Crimea Settle Down In West Ukraine
18 May, 2015

A year ago three Crimean Tatar families who are practicing Muslims left Russia-occupied Crimea and moved to the small town of Borynia in Ukraine’s Carpathian mountains. It’s not hard to find them, they are the only Tatars living in the only one 5-storey building in the village - the student hostel of the local college. They wanted to live close to one another and the director of the college offered them the hostel’s second floor.

“We arrived here with one big suitcase. We had very little money and it basically dried up during the first month,” Abnudur told us on his way to work. Abdur and some of the Tatars now work as lumberjacks in the forests.

Abnudur explained that they also are tasked with explaining to the locals what Islam is and what it means to be a Muslim. “People see the dark sides portrayed in the media. Everything comes from ignorance. People try to invite us to drink 100 grams of vodka, for instance. A typical village person knows very little about Islam,” said Abnudur, “they think they are welcoming us but we explain that it’s better to ask us to coffee”.

For now the families income together with the humanitarian assistance they receive is enough to live on. However, their living conditions are basic and overcrowded. An international project created to help refugees from Crimea gave them money to buy a house which they plan to repair and develop.

As at the 23 March 2015 the UN estimated that there are 1,178,000 IDPs in Ukraine. For several months a team of Hromadske traveled around Ukraine, from Sloviansk to Lviv, in search of stories of those who were left without their homes because of the war and the annexation. This the first story of part 2 of the Displaced series, a project about the lives of internally displaced persons in Ukraine from the Donbas region and Crimea.

// Hromadske with the support of the Thomson Foundation. Filmed in February, 2015.