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‘We haven’t forgotten them’: Hundreds attend York vigil on anniversary of Ukraine War

Ukrainian refugees who fled to England two years ago were also present at the vigil

Hundreds attended a ‘peace vigil’ held at York Minster on Saturday 24th February to mark two years since Russia invaded Ukraine.

The event consisted of prayers and readings by York Minster’s Canon Maggie McLean who said York would continue to “stand in solidarity” with the people of Ukraine.

As reported by the York Press, the event was organised again by York City of Sanctuary, a charity which welcomes, supports and educates those seeking sanctuary.

The vigil also saw traditional songs performed by the York Ukraine Together choir and singer Yulia Kirieko, who also performed at last year’s vigil at the Minster.

Refugees from the Russian invasion of Ukraine who have settled in York also attended the vigil. Maryna Rudeshko, from the York Ukrainian Society, was one of many others who wore traditional Ukrainian clothing to the event. Maryna arrived in the UK in April 2022 after evacuating from Broveri, an area east of the Capital, Kiev. She said she contacts her 28-year-old son and his girlfriend every day, both of whom are in the Ukrainian army.

The Ukrainian National Anthem was also sung following a two minute silence.

The BBC reported: “Labour MP for York Central Rachel Maskell said the city had “opened its hearts to the people of Ukraine”.”

Rachel added: “We have stood strong together throughout this time and supported so many people through the joy they are having here in this city but also through the pain they are having.”

York Minster’s Canon Maggie McLean also added: “We haven’t forgotten them.”

Svitlana Kucher from Kyiv, who has also settled in York and is now a member of the charity, told the York Press: “We are here to pray for peace in the whole of the world because there is no foreign war.”

Rebecca Russell, York-Ukraine support team project lead for the charity, said: “It was incredibly moving, just seeing the resilience of the people who have been here two years now.

“We really thought that we would be maybe a short war, maybe a year, and it’s just quite shocking to find that we’re still in the situation two years on.

“I have to say that leaders in the city have always been supportive. It’s very important to the Ukrainians actually because they’ve seen then that they are being represented at a city level and a political level. And Rachael Maskell being here as well was absolutely wonderful.

“As usual everyone coming together in York which I keep on going on and on and on about but actually it really is true. It’s a very good city for doing that.”

Featured image via Google Maps

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