There are currently six or seven thousand refugees in Ukraine seeking refugee status. Hurshyda has been in Ukraine for four years, and living in a temporary residence centre in Mukachevo for over a year.
“I’ve received refugee status and additional protection. Not everyone in Ukraine knows about such a document.” She is lucky, as not everyone can obtain refugee status or even a space in a residence centre. Currently “there are two such centers. But the number of rooms is limited.”
Despite this, Falka finds herself conflicted about her situation. “Sometimes, I want to leave and not come back here. On the other hand, I understand that I can’t live on the streets.” Hurshyda is also unhappy about the management of the residence centre. “If I want to go somewhere, I have to leave a note with all the details and contact information. Even our relatives cannot come to us. Only two to three hour visits are possible. We have to write an application to obtain such permission. We have to practically beg them. We’re not hostages, we’re normal people.” Although the centre provides food rations and a place to sleep, the state funded institution does not give out clothes or toiletries.
The United Nations has confirmed the centre’s inadequacy and stated that not all staff members “are qualified” and experience a high staff turnover, as “people don’t always understand the peculiarities of the work”. However, it is not only the staff that are not ready for the work but “the population of Mukachevo does not understand us, refugees.” Hurshyda tells us, “we went for a walk and a man passing by and asked “Do you want a banana?” I thought he wanted to give a banana to our children. But he said: “Monkey! I’m talking to you.” And he threw it into my daughter’s face.”
Ukraine is a popular transit point for many migrants from Asia and the Middle East who are trying to get to Europe.