Tens of thousands of Ukrainians numbering over 50, 000 are fleeing Russia’s war on their country have taken refuge in Turkey, including more than 1,000 orphans and foster children.
Some of them have gone to the coastal city of Antalya, which was already home to a Ukrainian and Russian population before the conflict began. Here FRANCE 24 met children who have been taken to safety, and are living thanks to the generosity of a group of Ukrainian businessmen.
Playing basketball in the heat of the Antalya sun, Kirill, a Ukrainian refugee from Chernigov, said he would prefer to be home with his loved ones.
“They were worried about me, they didn’t want me to see the war, you know?” Kirill said. “They wanted to protect me emotionally, that’s why they wanted me to go, even if I wanted to stay with them, even if it was dangerous
Like Kirill, more than 1,000 foster children or orphans have arrived in Turkey since the start of the war. In this hotel guarded by Turkish police and whose exact location must remain a secret, they are waiting to go home.
Their main benefactor in Antalya is Ruslan Shozdak, who heads a chain of supermarkets and drug stores in Ukraine.
“Thanks to our efforts in coordination with the Ukrainian consulate in Antalya we have been able to put this project into action,” he said. “Just one month after the start of the war, Turkey had already signed all the necessary documents and given all the authorisations to welcome these children, it’s incredible how fast it all went. But today, we are asking them to take charge of their medical needs.