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Girl from Ukraine stands with angel wings at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht
Source: RefugeeHelp
Experience
Commemoration in the living rooms of the Jaarbeurs
Last updated: 4/9/2024, 4:06 PM

On 24 February 2023, one year of the invasion in Ukraine was remembered at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht. Last year, the Jaarbeurs became for many Ukrainians the final point of their flee and the beginning of a life in the Netherlands. Last Friday, this place was again the point where Ukrainians and Dutch came together.

Commemoration in the living rooms of the Jaarbeurs

Hundreds of people start the morning of the 24th with the 'Walk of hope'. This is a walk between the Central Station in Utrecht and the Jaarbeurs - the same route that many Ukrainians walked upon arrival in the Netherlands. People sang and stopped here and there to reflect on profound pictures from Ukraine.

The main hall of the Jaarbeurs is divided into different regions from Ukraine. Each region is recognisable by a recreated living room. There are couches, chairs and a TV, where images from the specific region can be seen. This idea comes from the Ukrainian foundation Vital'nya, which organised this day. This way it is possible to meet people from the same city or region.

Marharyta is standing in one of the living rooms. "I have mixed feelings about this day. There is a lot of sadness, but it is also beautiful that we are here with so many people - not only Ukrainians, but also Dutch people. This creates a great feeling."

At 11:00, President Zelensky will open the joint commemoration with an online speech, and the national anthem will be sung. "It's a difficult day for us," Ellen says. "I've been crying all day. I am grateful that my child and I and now are in a position of safety. But back home, in Ukraine, there are so many people in danger."

Pierre, from the Netherlands, also came to the Jaarbeurs. His blue-and-yellow suit, the Ukrainian flag and a sunflower make him stand out. "I am here because I was immediately touched by the situation in Ukraine," he says.

Pierre: "I saw on TV that a couple tried to flee, but just at that moment there was a Russian attack. It was terrible to see. Today, as a Dutchman, I am trying to provide support to people from Ukraine."

Thinking about the future is not easy, but Marharyta and Ellen remain hopeful. "We are going to win this battle! After that, we can rebuild a life in Ukraine."

Compilation video of the commemoration throughout the Netherlands

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