Ukraine demonstrators thank city for warm welcome
- 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.
"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.
"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.
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
"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.
"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.
"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."