The Terror Ukrainian Refugees to Greece Brought with Them

ATHENS – They left the war behind them, fleeing Russia’s invasion of their country, but the horror followed them all the way to Greece, where nearly 6,000 Ukrainian refugees found sanctuary and at least a temporary home.

In a feature, Agence France-Presse reported on the plight and fear and mental toll of being uprooted during a war and settling in another country, even one with ties to Greece, with Greeks having lived in Mariupol, Ukraine for centuries.

“I’m terrified of the war. I want this to end quickly so I can go back home,” said a 15-year-old girl who wasn’t named, but said she spent 25 hours on a bus from the western Ukrainian city of Lviv to the Greek-Bulgarian border.

Greece had also repatriated nearly 200 of its own nationals including sailors and journalists from Kieve, Mariupol and Odessa, according to the Greek foreign ministry, the report added.

A woman hugs a child as people who fled Ukraine after the Russian invasion arrive by bus in Athens, late Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Nearly a dozen ethnic Greeks were killed in two villages early in the invasion in what Greece said were Russian airstrikes bute Russia said they were killed by Ukrainian forces and irregulars although critics cited disinformation campaigns.

“Greece is ready to receive Ukrainians and ethnic Greeks coming to our country as war refugees… as a rule, Ukrainians usually go where they have relatives or acquaintances,” Mitarachis told OPEN TV.

Greece is issuing temporary residence permits to Ukrainian refugees, who will be able to stay and work in the country for one year. There are already some 25,000 Ukrainians living in Greece, Mitarachis said, with many employed as household staff and construction workers.

At the Promachonas border crossing, Ukrainian consulate staff are helping to issue registration documents to those who fled without passports and housing them in a container camp for brief periods before trying to find other accommodations.

A child exits a bus as people who fled Ukraine after the Russian invasion arrive by bus in Athens, late Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)


There numbers there so far were small but the fear was great.

“People are frozen and scared,” said Yiannis, a 52-year-old entrepreneur who has lived in the western Ukrainian city of Khmelnytskyi for the past 20 years, marrying a Ukrainian woman with whom he has an eight-year-old son.

“There are over 10,000 people gathered on the border with Romania and most of them want to come to Greece,” he told AFP.

The migration ministry has said that Greece can accommodate some 30,000 people from Ukraine and Mitarachis said thousands of beds were immediately available in unoccupied migrant camps in the north of the country.

With European Union funding, Greece would also be able to provide hotel accommodation, he said, Ukrainians taking the place of Syrians, Afghans and the refugees from other countries who came before them.

The Greek government has also said there are over 140,000 jobs available in the agriculture sector and some 50,000 in tourism, no reports if any were offered to refugees from other countries seeking asylum but kept in detention camps.

A girl holds a plush doll as people who fled Ukraine after the Russian invasion arrive by bus in Athens, late Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Albina Koshariuk, 25, told the news agency he wants to work in tourism. “My mother has been living on the island of Crete in recent years. I will go to Athens initially and then settle there,” she said

“I could no longer live in Ukraine in the shelters, fearing death every day,” she said, explaining how bad it is with Russia’s shelling of cities and civilians and not being stopped by the international community who won’t intervene.

“(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is a murderer. I will return to keep on fighting. We will win,” said Koshariuk.


The Minister of Culture of Greece, Lina Mendoni, will visit the Center for Hellenic Studies ‘Paideia’ at the University of Connecticut, on Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 November.

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