Peterborough law firm launches campaign to help reunite families stranded and displaced by war in Ukraine as employee fears for her own family caught in the conflict

Protesters gathered in Cathedral Square in Peterborough last week in support of Ukraine. A law firm in the city has offered to help residents with the paperwork necessary to help their loved ones escape from the war zone.

Lawson Hunte, based at the Eco Innovation Center on City Road, offers free pro bono applications to anyone whose family members are Ukrainian nationals who have found themselves stranded or displaced due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The national initiative was launched by company secretary Ms Natalia Usatenko, who is a British national from Ukraine and fears for the safety of her family back home.

Ms Usatenko contacted the management of Lawson Hunte to ask for help with her own family, who are stranded a few kilometers from the town of Cherkasy in central Ukraine, 200 kilometers south of the national capital, Kiev.

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The UK Government’s Home Secretary announced ‘phase two of the UK’s bespoke humanitarian support program for the people of Ukraine’ earlier this week. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has estimated that one million people have fled Ukraine and millions more are expected to flee the country if the war continues.

Ms Usatenko was going to Europe to interpret for families who need help with the paper applications available at British embassies. Lawson Hunte is now helping Ms. Usatenko and the people of Ukraine to make applications for the reunification of families affected by the conflict.

“I was ready to go to border countries to serve as an interpreter,” she said. “It has now been announced that application forms will be available online and that is why we are offering free help in completing online applications and I will work as a translator and adviser.”

Ms Usatenko is one of three sisters and moved to the UK from Ukraine 26 years ago. Her younger sister and her two nieces, aged only four and six, hope to flee the country, but her mother and her other sister have decided to stay.

“My youngest sister is going to flee with my two nieces because she is young and not afraid to go to another country,” she said. “The other said, ‘Natalie, I’m going to stay and defend my country – I want to defend my home.’

“My mother said to me: ‘I am too old to run, I want to die in my own house and in my own country’. There’s no way I can persuade her. I tried every day to persuade her to leave with my youngest sister, but she doesn’t want to leave. I’m about to lose my mom if this continues because she’ll be here all alone.

“My youngest sister is currently still in Ukraine because the transport situation is terrible. Nothing works except the trains and even they don’t run regularly. People sit on the platforms with young children who sometimes wait for days for a train to arrive at the station.

“She managed to book tickets for a train. She said she made sure she had a valid ticket with valid seat numbers because it was an overnight train and she wanted to make sure her daughters had somewhere to go. to sleep. There’s no way they can stay up all night – they’re too young.

Ms Usatenko also fears for her friends who cannot leave the country.

“Many of my friends who live in different cities, especially in Kyiv, said that they couldn’t even get their relatives out because it was surrounded by the army. is not allowed to leave.

“There is a shortage of food and because people are constantly bombarded, they have to take refuge in shelters, like the metro station.”

Lawson Hunte argues that the project is not politically motivated but is solely aimed at alleviating human suffering and taking positive action to support the local and wider community in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.

The company seeks to support the initiative. They hope to recruit volunteers with Ukrainian and Russian language skills and administrative support.

If you would like to volunteer to support Lawson Hunte in the campaign, contact Sonya on 01733 793869 or Natalia on 01733 515892.

If you need help with a family member, a relocation-related family-based request or a listening ear, contact Lawson Hunte on 01733 515892.

About Michael S. Montanez

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