A Ukrainian MP has spoken of hugging a child split up from his parents who had a note in his backpack saying “please, please keep him safe”.
Kira Rudyk, who is in the UK to meet the defence secretary Ben Wallace on Monday, told Sophy Ridge on Sunday the heartbreaking stories of children who have been made refugees by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
She said there was a group of children in the besieged city of Mariupol whose parents had to hand their children over and they gave them backpacks – blue for the boys, pink for the girls.
“They were putting small notes in there and then handing them over to strangers to keep them safe,” she said.
“They were saying ‘just get them safe’ and telling them ‘whatever happens just hold on to your backpack’.
“Then at the refugee centre you’re hugging this child and you’re telling them ‘give it to me, please let’s open it up and see what’s there’.
“And he’s saying ‘no, mummy told me not to do that, mummy told me not to do that and will I ever see my mummy again?’
“Then when you open it up – the same thing probably happened in the Second World War – they were writing down the small things like: mummy loves you, this is last name, first name, this is his paperwork, his address and please please please please keep him safe.
“This is what I want for Ukrainian children, to make them safe.”
Ms Rudyk also told an emotional story of a girl who asked her mother “the question that nobody can answer – mummy are we refugees now?”.
“How are you supposed to talk to a kid about that?” she added.
The MP also called on the UK government to give Ukraine missiles as they are “critically” needed because the Russians have been advancing in eastern Ukraine and blocking ports, which is preventing the export of grain, potatoes and sunflower oil.
“There is an extreme need right now for a humanitarian mission to be able to extract all this produce,” she said.
“I know you guys are already having higher food prices. Sunflower oil is missing from the stores – and you know why? It is because it is all in the Ukraine right now.
“The world right now only has 10 weeks’ supplies of grains. Politicians of the world need to figure out how to get out all the harvest that Ukraine has.”
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Ms Rudyk added that she is “humbly asking” for the government to make it easier for Ukrainian refugees to get visas to the UK.
She said the current process is “too bureaucratic, it’s long and it’s complicated”.
“The processes have been eased up in Canada, so it is just a question mark from me about why the United Kingdom would not do the same – it would be only natural,” she added.