Ukraine demonstrators thank city for warm welcome

Timur Romanetc, 10, braving the rain at the Ukraine protest at City Hall protest on July 31

Timur Romanetc, 10, braving the rain at the Ukraine protest at City Hall protest on July 31 - Credit: Maya Derrick

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at City Hall to protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, amid fears that the conflict is slipping from the public's attention.

Among the crowd of around 300 people were Ukrainian refugees who have fled to the city to escape the bloodshed, and the event was also intended to show thanks for the welcome they have received from the local community.

It was organised by Natalia Scott - a Ukrainian who lives in Sprowston with her husband Gordon.

Natalia Scott addresses the crowd at the Ukraine protest at City Hall on July 31

Natalia Scott addresses the crowd at the Ukraine protest at City Hall on July 31 - Credit: Maya Derrick

"I couldn't predict how many people would come out today," she said.

"There are so many more Ukrainian faces and voices here today.

"One of my aims was just to say thank you to Norfolk for providing their houses and support. They made it possible.

Hundreds descended on City Hall to protest the war in Ukraine

Hundreds descended on City Hall to protest the war in Ukraine - Credit: Maya Derrick

"We still need to help others.

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"The world needs to react. How many more people need to die for people to step up and step in?"

Dmitro Todorov arrived in the UK as a refugee two months ago

He said: "We were in Odessa for one month. At the time Russian bombs were falling - it was a horrible time.

Dmitro Todorov and his mother Olena have lived in the UK for two months

Dmitro Todorov and his mother Olena have lived in the UK for two months - Credit: Maya Derrick

"After that we took a train to Poland and then got on a bus to the UK."

The journey took Mr Todorov four days - one on the train and a further three by bus.

As rain fell on the protesters, his mother Olena added: "The weather here cries for Ukraine."

Andy Perus with Jonas and Solomia, both eight on the steps of City Hall

Andy Perus with Jonas and Solomia, both eight on the steps of City Hall - Credit: Maya Derrick

Also attending was Anastasiia Petrenko, who hasn't heard from her grandmother since May 15 and doesn't know if she's still alive.

She has already lost her uncle to the war.

Ana is from Rubizhne and has been in the UK since April.

Anastasiia Petrenko addressing the crowd at the Ukraine protest at City Hall

Anastasiia Petrenko addressing the crowd at the Ukraine protest at City Hall - Credit: Maya Derrick

"I want to stop the war immediately," she said in a speech to the crowd.

She added: "It's amazing to see this outpouring of support. I love my people and it's great to see so many here to protest.

"This is a reminder that there are still people dying right now."

Protestors voicing their opposition to Russia's invasion of Ukraine at a protest in Norwich on July 31

Protestors voicing their opposition to Russia's invasion of Ukraine at a protest in Norwich on July 31 - Credit: Maya Derrick

Ana's friend Beth Davis added: "This shows how important European solidarity is. We met because of the European Union Project, and that's how we were able to get Ana here so quickly."

Ana continued: "That solidarity felt like a safety blanket when I had nowhere to turn.

Anastasiia Petrenko and Beth Davis at the Ukraine protest at City Hall on July 31

Anastasiia Petrenko and Beth Davis at the Ukraine protest at City Hall on July 31 - Credit: Maya Derrick

"It was such a relief to see familiar faces. I'm, so grateful for what people in the UK are doing for me. I will never be able to express my gratitude enough.

"I don't know if I will ever go home at all. My city is under occupation and my country has been destroyed completely.

Floods of protesters took to the steps of City Hall in the rain to celebrate Ukraine and motion against the Russian invasion

Floods of protesters took tot he steps of City Hall in Norwich in the rain to celebrate Ukraine and motion against the Russian invasion - Credit: Maya Derrick

"It may take many years. But I don't have somewhere to return to."

Bank manager Olena Kovalchuk, 39, came to the UK two months ago with her 11-year-old son Artem, settling in Ellingham.

Olena Kovalchuk, son Artem and Mariia Misherska under the Ukrainian flag at Sunday's City Hall protest

Olena Kovalchuk, son Artem and Mariia Misherska under the Ukrainian flag at Sunday's City Hall protest - Credit: Maya Derrick

"I left my home in Kyiv because of the war.

"Seeing people here is very emotional. it's a show of my pain. Ukraine is my heart."