A couple who fled their Ukrainian home as it was being pounded by Russian bombs gave an emotional speech at a rally in York today.
Hundreds of people turned out at the York Stands With Ukraine event in St Helen’s Square.
Daniel Collinson, from York, and his Ukrainian wife Yana, left the under-siege city of Kharkiv after spending days underground sheltering from the shells raining down.
On the steps of the Mansion House, Yana told the large crowd:
It is very heartbreaking for me being here far away from my home, and seeing how many people in the whole world are supporting my family members still there in Ukraine, and me, and all the Ukrainian people who are dying and suffering from this horrible war.
On the 24th of February at about 5am, we heard the first attack on our city, and our normal lives ended forever. We had careers, families, plans and dreams. And they all immediately disappeared in one moment.
Two million Kharkivians basically became homeless, and had to hide from air attacks underground. Thousands of people now live in their basements like rats. Basements have become our new homes – and for some people, they became tombs.
Everything that would happen to me and my husband now seems like a horrible, horrible dream.
You can see some of Yana’s speech in the video below, and all of her speech and husband Daniel’s in the Facebook Livestream below.
We’re live at the York Stands With Ukraine rally in St Helens SquarePosted by YorkMix on Saturday, 5 March 2022
In her speech, Rachael Maskell, Labour MP for York Central, said:
Today you stand with this nation under siege in solidarity with Ukraine. We say to Mr Putin, ‘Lay down your arms, stop this war.’
We say to the people of Ukraine, we are with you, we honour your fortitude and your resolve. We will do all we can to support.
Parliament is acting, but must go further, faster. Sanctions to isolate, defence support to strengthen, humanitarian aid to help.
Many speakers urged the government to do more to welcome Ukrainian refugees fleeing their war-torn homeland.
Julian Sturdy, Conservative MP for York Outer, told YorkMix:
We need to do more. We certainly need to up our game. There’s more we need to do on the refugee situations actually, no doubt about that.
Conflict and war brings huge human sacrifice. And we’re seeing that daily on our TV screens at the moment as the people of Ukraine are fleeing the conflict.
And the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell told YorkMix:
What’s happening in Ukraine is an unspeakable evil. It’s a horror.
And it’s really important that all of us stand together to express our outrage at what is happening to call on President Putin to stop but at the same time offer what support we can to the people of Ukraine.