Barcelona, Spain, May 24 (EFE).- Before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine three months ago, a stay in a 4-star hotel in Spain would have been a dream holiday for many Ukrainains.
But for Svitlana and around 150 Ukrainian refugees – most of whom are women, children and older people – who have been sheltering at a hotel on an industrial estate outside Barcelona, the weeks they have been in Spain have been a nightmare as their country is devastated by the Russian invasion.
“I have nothing but gratitude for the Spaniards who have taken us in – they have given us accommodation, food, medicine, toys, thank you very much,” Svitlana tells Efe.
“But my future is in Ukraine, we want the war to end and go back home. I want to return to my husband and my parents, the children miss their father very much already,” the mother of three adds.
Svitlana is hopeful that she will be able to return to Ukraine by the autumn.
“I don’t want to think that that war will last much longer, I will try to go back in any way I can,” she says.
Like Svitlana, Olga is grateful to be safe in Spain, but longs to return home soon.
“I want the war to end and go back. Hopefully by September so that the children can go back to school when the new school year starts in Ukraine,” she tells Efe.
A translator, Liudmyla arrived in Spain 13 years ago and is volunteering to help the refugees arriving from Ukraine.
She says that the refugees, especially the mothers and elderly, are not interested in building a life in Spain.
“The only thing they want is to recover their lives in Ukraine with the people they left behind,” she says.
The children, however, have started going to school and are slowly learning Spanish.
“Even though the children came here as refugees, they are playing and have been making friends, they are distracted from the war,” Olga says.
She says that watching her children also helps distract her from the violence and bloodshed in her home country.
“But when they go to bed, I call my husband and cry,” she admits.
The refugees have been granted a one-year temporary protection residency in Spain as part of an EU initiative.
Although they could potentially renew it for another year, they hope to never have to. EFE