Ukrainian families reunite as Kherson railway station reopens

Ukrainian families reunite as Kherson railway station reopens
Ukrainian families reunite as Kherson railway station reopens

Ukrainian families reunite as Kherson railway station reopens

With tears, smiles and the occasional explosion, the first train in eight months from Kyiv arrived in Kherson, southern Ukraine, and families separated by the war were reunited.

“I promised to come back,” Anastasia Shivliuga, 30, said shortly after getting off the train and meeting her mother. “It happened and I kept my promise.”

For others, the moment of arrival in Kherson was much sadder.

Svetlana Dusenko fought back tears as she waited for her only son, whom she last saw before Russia’s war in Ukraine began on February 24.

“He’s the last one I left here,” she says.

Ukrainians have lived in grief, humiliation and fear in recent months as Russian forces expanded from Crimea and seized control of much of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, including Kherson.

Two days after the war began in February, Dusenko’s husband died of “Covid-19” after the power was cut at the hospital he was in, where he was on a ventilator.

In the months that followed, she lived under the control of Russian forces, who occasionally searched homes and set up checkpoints around the city.

“It was very chaotic and very difficult,” explains Hosenko. Russian soldiers searched my house… they stormed it looking for weapons.

She plans to take the train back to Kyiv with her son.

“I just want to see him and tell him I love him,” she adds.

A few meters away, Lyudmila Romaniuk, 66, is holding a bouquet of flowers and is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her granddaughter.

“Her people in Kherson don’t know she’s coming. You and I planned this,” she told AFP, laughing, adding, “We’re finally free.”

And she continues: “It’s a win for everyone. We have been liberated and my favorite child is coming here.”

Others came to the station not to meet anyone but to enjoy Kherson’s return to the Ukrainian authorities.

For railway workers, the arrival of this train is a moment of great pride.

More than 100 workers have worked 12-hour days in rain and sleet for the past week, clearing and repairing nearly 60 kilometers of track with the help of demining teams.

“It’s touching,” said railway worker Denis Rostec, 31. “After learning about the liberation of Cherson, we received an order to repair 58 different damaged spots on the line.”

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