Finding Joy Amidst Adversity: A Christmas Tale Of Survival For Ukrainian Refugees In Australia

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This Christmas, Inna Ilyenko aches to be reunited with her beloved husband and parents in Ukraine.

She is amongst more than 4,700 Ukrainians who have sought asylum in Australia and been granted temporary protection visas.

“Being so far from my family has been a struggle for me, and the ongoing unrest in Ukraine worries us all deeply,” Ms Ilyenko said.

She remarked about the struggles refugees from war experience as they attempt to reunite with their families during a time of year when everyone is full of joy and festivity in Sydney.

“Being here alone with my son is devastating, as my husband Andrii stayed in Kyiv, and our daughter, who’s 20 years old, is in Austria,” she explained.

Hailing from the war-torn Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, Ms Ilyenko still has a family.

“Even despite the daily gunfights that disrupt Donetsk, my parents remain steadfastly there,” Ms Ilyenko explained.

“While we call Australia home, our hearts remain in Ukraine.”

Andrew Mencinsky from the Ukrainian Council of NSW noted that although Orthodox Christmas arrives early January 6th and 7th, refugees from Ukraine continue to celebrate on this day, December 25th, with their local community.

“Despite the joy of having them here in Australia, there is a lingering sadness for those back home in Ukraine.” According to Mr Mencinsky, finding a more significant difference between the two nations is impossible.

“While Sydney is basking in the warm sunshine, Kyiv’s temperatures have plummeted to a staggering -10 degrees Celsius as Russia continues its devastating bombardment of critical civilian infrastructure, leaving citizens struggling with no gas and electricity,” said Mr Mencinsky.

He expressed his perpetual concern for the plight of Ukrainian refugees.

“Global backing for Ukraine’s fight against Russia is in danger of dwindling, leaving the future of the situation in Ukraine shrouded by doubt,” Mr Mencinsky added.

“Furthermore, these migrants are deeply uncertain about their safety and the prospects of their family and friends once their humanitarian visas have expired.” 

As the conflict continues, more Ukrainian refugees are continuously seeking asylum in Australia.

“It is imperative to support them and give them hope so they can eventually have a peaceful future,” Mr Mencinsky said.

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