Stand with Ukraine
Recently I met a young person who was forced to leave their home in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, soon after their country was invaded by Russia on February 24th last year. Because of an existing family connection in Jersey, they were allowed to seek refuge in the Island though they came with little more than what they stood up in, and had to wear the clothes of a much older person on their first day in school. Their classmates quickly raised funds to provide this person with vouchers to buy what they needed and they have been made really welcome by everyone in Jersey.
This encounter resonated particularly during the 78th anniversary of Jersey’s liberation from Nazi occupation last month, when both the Bailiff and the Chief Minister referred to the suffering of Ukraine in their speeches on Liberation Day. Oleksandr Senkevych, the Mayor of Mykolaiv, a city in Ukraine which is now twinned with St Helier, was invited to attend the ceremonies but was unable to owing to a recent spate of aggression by the Russian army. During the afternoon on Liberation Day, a group of Ukrainians living locally were present at the Slaveworkers Memorial to lay a wreath in memory of their compatriots who suffered during the Occupation.
Whatever the pressures we face individually and collectively we are not faced now, as Jersey families were in June 1940, with the agonising decision of whether to leave our homes, our schools, our pets, our possessions, and to become evacuees; we are not subject to random, wanton and senseless acts of destruction by a foreign power which is the daily reality for the people who have stayed in Ukraine since the invasion of their country. We must do what we can to support Ukraine, even if the help we can give is limited to fundraising and, in the case of St Helier’s twinning with Mykolaiv, forging links with schools and other institutions in our twin town which will be able to flourish when the invasion comes to an end, peace is restored, and Ukraine is able to commemorate its own Liberation Day.