Newfoundland and Labrador opens its doors to Ukrainian refugees

Posted on July 05, 2022 | By Louis Power | 0 Comments


When Maruf Mahmudov and Yana Mahmudova discussed their family’s five-year plan in January, returning to Ukraine with their two young daughters was still a possibility.

The couple had so recently moved from Bucha, Ukraine, to Skierniewice, Poland, that half their belongings were still in the home they rented in Bucha.

They hoped Maruf could further his education in the field of health care while Yana worked as a family physician. They wanted to save money to buy a home where they could raise their young daughters, Aisha and Khadisa. After five years, they thought they’d have a better idea where their next move would take them—Canada, the U.S. or back to Ukraine. There were many factors to consider.

Maruf and Yana connected with Atlantic Business Magazine by video chat in May to talk about their experience with the war and their hopes for a new life in Newfoundland and Labrador. Yana, who is practising her English, also wrote some of her thoughts with Maruf’s help.

“I don’t know how it will be, but from Feb. 24, I finished thinking about any degrees,” Maruf said, referring to the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was a “very, very big shock for our family.”

Hundreds of Ukrainian civilians were killed during the Russian occupation of Bucha, which lasted from Feb. 27 until the end of March. Horrific reports of war crimes in the city are being investigated.

Maruf said the brutal occupation took a physical and mental toll on his family’s old neighbourhood. While their communication with friends inside Ukraine is currently limited, they are painfully aware of the rape, killing, destruction and looting that occurred in Bucha. Returning to the city now, even to retrieve their belongings, is no longer an option. The things they left behind—including gold jewelry their daughters received from their grandmother, and even the children’s towels—were looted.

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