Emmanuel and Sylvester, IT professionals from Nigeria, said they were heartbroken to leave Kyiv, a city they’ve come to love during the last four years. After not leaving their apartments for five days and sleeping last night in a bomb shelter, they were hoping to find a train that would take them west, where they could cross into the EU and catch a flight home.
“My mother told me she would kill me before [Putin] if I didn’t leave,” Emmanuel said.
They chose to try to reach Hungary, they said, after reading reports that Ukrainian police and border guards have harassed Nigerian citizens trying to flee, and that Polish authorities are denying entry to people like them.
Nearby, Molvina, a mother of two daughters, ages 10 and 5, wept on the floor of the international hall of the train station. Along with their small terrier Kompot, named after the homemade fruit juice that’s popular in this part of the world, she hoped they would be able to make it to Poland.
“We don’t know what to do after that,” she said. “Everything we have is here now.”
All she could manage to take were three small bags of possessions and the dog.
“We hope we will be back soon. We will be back soon,” she said defiantly.
She said she left Georgia for Ukraine after Russia invaded her home country in 2008. She spent the last 14 years building a new life, only to have Putin destroy it yet again.
Behind her, people queued at the international room’s France café, which typically serves buttery croissants and steamy cappuccinos. On Tuesday, it sold simple Lipton tea in plastic cups and slices of white bread. Around 2:30 p.m., the tea ran out, so the café handed out hot water to keep people warm while they waited.