Local Ukrainian-American community worries about friends and family back home – CBS Philly

JENKINTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — The Ukrainian-American community in Philadelphia is very worried about their friends and family in their home country. As Russian troops surround Ukraine’s borders, war seems imminent and Ukrainian Americans fear the worst.

“I think everyone thinks it will be worse than World War II. It will be bad, it will be a lot of bloodshed,” said Natalie Firko, president of the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center.

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Philadelphians with ties to the country remember the effects of the war on their families.

“My mum was born in Budapest on a train as bombings were happening. My dad was born in Ukraine but fled with his widowed mum and sister and that was the last time they were all there.

On Sunday, Firko helped organize a rally that sent about 200 people to the White House where they urged the president for more support.

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“There are messages I’ve received that say, ‘Don’t worry, God loves Ukraine.’ At the same time, they say that there are days when we don’t know what will happen,” said Anatoli Murha, who attended the rally in Washington.

Some say this is not just a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with Russian troops currently stationed in neighboring Belarus. Many people there and in Russia are unable to express themselves.

“My personal friend Vladimir was sentenced to 15 years in prison just for being a YouTuber and speaking truths about the difficult life in Belarus,” according to Siarzhuk Shaliga of the Association of Belarusians in America.

For Natalie, the toll of the war was seen in 2017. That was when her family finally returned to the country they were forced to flee.

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“It was an emotional visit that they’re safe for now, but again, you just don’t know,” Firko said.

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