An exhibition entitled “Europe is Ukraine. Ukraine is Europe”. Among other things, photos showing the dramatic effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, especially for children and young people.
The exhibition was opened on the initiative of MEP Anna Zalewska in cooperation with the Mission of Ukraine to the EU. The event was attended by Ukraine’s Ambassador to the EU, Vsevolod Chentsov, and Mayor of Chernihiv, Władysław Atroshenko.
“Today is the 98th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. War should not be something we are used to. Dying children, wiping out schools, universities and homes on the surface land cannot be the norm,” said Zalewska. She added that so far 243 children have died in Ukraine due to Russian aggression, and many more have been injured.
The MEP said that 1,888 educational institutions in Ukraine had been destroyed in the last three months and that the war started by Russia not only posed a threat to this generation, but also threatened to destroy Ukrainian identity.
The Polish politician noted that, unfortunately, Europe still does not speak with one voice on this issue. “Some of us are still negotiating with a terrorist state, which means we are losing as a European Union,” Zalewska said and expressed hope that this exhibit would wake up those who are still sleeping, raising awareness of the atrocities taking place in Ukraine.
Ambassador Chentsov underlined that it is very important for Ukraine to draw the attention of the international community to the problem of the suffering of Ukrainian children. “Hundreds of Ukrainian children were killed by the Russians, hundreds were injured and millions of them became refugees in Europe,” he said and added that Ukraine is grateful for their having given legal training or social protection in Europe, but that does not change the fact of the difficult situation in which they found themselves.
Chentsov stressed that Ukraine is facing a complex crisis situation and no one in Europe was prepared for such a situation. He argued that now it is necessary to think about the reconstruction of cities in Ukraine.
“If we wanted to bring people into the country, we couldn’t do it, because people will have nowhere to live and work” – said the ambassador. As he added, Ukrainians want to return home and rebuild the economy, they have huge support from the EU on many levels, but more is needed because the situation is very difficult. “The Russian army is advancing and using our civilians as a human shield. I know it is not easy to help, but together we are fighting not only for the freedom of Ukraine, but of all of Europe” , he pointed out.
Mayor of Chernihiv Atroshenko spoke about the situation in his city following the Russian aggression. He spoke of the heroic attitude not only of the soldiers, but above all of all its inhabitants, who, despite the dramatic situation, decided not to leave the city. He reported that 314 civilians, including 16 children, had died in Chernihiv alone since the attack began.
As he pointed out, Russian troops deliberately attacked civilian property by throwing bombs and firing indiscriminately into residential areas where there were no military or defense installations. As a result of numerous attacks, apart from fatalities, almost all critical infrastructure, almost all schools, hospitals, public transport, monuments, as well as a large number of apartments and houses were destroyed , or 20,000 people. citizens were left homeless.
The mayor called for immediate help to rebuild the city. “We can’t wait for the end of the war. We have to do it now,” he said. As he argued, it is necessary because “if people don’t see that the country is rebuilding, they will start looking for housing and work opportunities in other parts of Ukraine, as well as abroad”. “If they leave Ukraine, it will be much more difficult to win this war” – underlined Atroshenko.
From Brussels, Łukasz Osiński