I arrive in Chernivsti in the morning. Roman picks me up at the border, accompanied by his 8-year-old son who, like all children of his age, loves football and on the way there wants to show me the stadium where “United Chernivsti” plays. It’s an interlude of “normality and lightness” that children are always able to convey. In front of Vrb’s offices, however, I am faced with a much harsher reality. A long queue of people has formed. There wasn’t one a month ago, when I came here for the first time. They are waiting, silently, without complaining, patiently, to receive a bag with some food and personal hygiene products. They are women and children. What strikes me most is that they do not speak. There is a sort of embarrassment in their eyes about being guests in a new city, about this ‘suspended’ existence in the hands of unknown compatriots who take care of them. They receive protein porridge, biscuits and flour and a little soap. And although there are many more soldiers and police on the streets than there used to be, people seem to be under the illusion that the war is far away. Proof that this is not the case are the many signs with the words “бункер” (bunker) and those with arrows indicating where to run in case of bombing. Peace and normality here are really only a semblance or a very, very faint hope.

Andrea Atzori, head of  International Relations Department


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