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One year on, Galway is home to 4,000 Ukrainians displaced by war

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It is one year since Russia invaded Ukraine, starting a war that has killed over 40,000 people, severely injured multiples more and displaced millions from their homes.

Galway has become the safe haven for over 4,000 of those who fled the war-torn country over the last twelve months and with no end to the hostilities in sight, many are coming to terms with a longer stay than they could ever have imagined.

An Spidéal-based Archee Kvashyn, who arrived in Galway with his wife and three children last March, says what he and his family have gone through over the past year was beyond anything they could have imagined.

“Absolutely not, I could not have imagined I would be here for one year. Even on February 23 last year, I couldn’t have imagined what happened the next day,” he says, referring to the invasion.

“It’s crazy. I do not have words to describe it.”

Despite huge support from locals and the Irish Government, the last few months have been tough.

“Sometimes, you get very depressed. When you read the news, it’s just very upsetting.

“My sister is still in Ukraine. She didn’t want to leave. Her and her daughter are volunteering in Kyiv, helping with collecting food and clothes,” says Archee who travelled to Ireland from Bucha, a town west of Kyiv where mass graves were discovered in April following a massacre of Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war.

“The situation in Kyiv is of course very difficult right now. The people only have electricity for three to four hours, maximum five hours per day. They have no other form of light, no heating, no internet,” he continues.

Archee says his thoughts are occupied by friends and family at home, and the concern that the war could escalate rather than end.

His family is settled in Ireland, he says. His eldest daughter attending GTI and his son is enjoying learning Irish at Inverin National School.

His youngest daughter was just an infant when they left home, and having recently turned one he says he’s glad she doesn’t understand the gravity of their situation.

“My son is okay. He’s young enough that once he has sweets, he’s happy. My older daughter, she is 17. She was depressed sometimes but she has friends now and is working and studying, so she is busy,” says Archee.

The protests against refugees and asylum seekers stoked by Far Right have not changed his opinion that the majority of Irish people understand the difficulty of their situation, he says.

“I understand that for Ireland, this is difficult. This is a challenge for everyone. But 99 per cent of the Irish people want to help. They understand the situation.

“We are people in a very stressful situation. Stressed people make mistakes but usually, the Ukrainian people who come here are very grateful and kind. I would just ask people to be patient because this is very difficult,” says Archee.

The Irish Georgian Chamber of Commerce welcomed some of the first Ukrainian refugees to Galway last year, securing accommodation for the new arrivals and supporting them in finding schools and work.

Chairman of the city-based organisation, Giorgi Peikrishvili, says Georgians know all too well the impact of a Russian invasion, their own country having been subjected to one in 2008.

He says it was important for him to reinforce the message that the vast majority of Irish people understood that the Ukrainians here did not want to leave their home, but were forced to flee for their safety.

“These protests, and thankfully there haven’t been any in Galway outside hotels, they are damaging to everyone. They are also quite insulting for the Irish people and businesses who have done so much to help.

“The Ukrainians that have come here have so much respect for the Irish people and their hospitality. You ask for one blanket and you get five – that’s just how Irish people work,” says Giorgi.

Over the past year, many of those who have arrived here have had to resign themselves to a longer stay than they every could have anticipated, he adds.

“The big problem now is that even if the war stopped tomorrow, peoples’ houses are gone.”

Loughrea resident Val Sokur, a Ukrainian national who has called Ireland home for the past 20 years, says the end of the war lies in the hands of the international community, and in particular those countries supplying weapons to the Ukrainian army.

Val Sokur

Val spoke to the Connacht Tribune in April about travelling to Ukraine three times to bring members of his family to safety in Loughrea, but his son was one of those who stayed behind.

“My son is in the Ukrainian army. He has spent the past two weeks in hospital with a good few injuries – he’s been injured twice in the last two months.

“My worry is when it does end, how it will end. Even if the Ukrainian army secured the border, I feel like Russia could still be firing missiles over,” says Val who works as a mechanic in Knocknacarra.

He said the visit of US President Joe Biden to Kyiv this week, and visits like that of former Taoiseach Micheál Martin last July do have a positive impact and the support of the international community is bolstering Ukrainians.

“Ireland is a small country but it has taken so many refugees, and that is not easy.

“Ukrainians will remember all the European countries, including Ireland, for generations to come. They looked after them and put up the money to do it,” says Val.

“How are things a year on? It is still a war and people are still dying every single day.”

Main photo by Joe O’ Shaughnessy: Archee Kvashyn (front, in blue hoodie) and some of his Ukrainian colleagues at Westside Community Centre

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest

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Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway minors continue to lay waste to all opponents

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Galway's Aaron Niland is chased by Cillian O'Callaghan of Cork during Saturday's All-Ireland Minor Hurling semi-final at Semple Stadium. Photo: Stephen Marken/Sportsfile.

Galway 3-18

Cork 1-10

NEW setting; new opposition; new challenge. It made no difference to the Galway minor hurlers as they chalked up a remarkable sixth consecutive double digits championship victory at Semple Stadium on Saturday.

The final scoreline in Thurles may have been a little harsh on Cork, but there was no doubting Galway’s overall superiority in setting up only a second-ever All-Ireland showdown against Clare at the same venue on Sunday week.

Having claimed an historic Leinster title the previous weekend, Galway took a while to get going against the Rebels and also endured their first period in a match in which they were heavily outscored, but still the boys in maroon roll on.

Beating a decent Cork outfit by 14 points sums up how formidable Galway are. No team has managed to lay a glove on them so far, and though Clare might ask them questions other challengers haven’t, they are going to have to find significant improvement on their semi-final win over 14-man Kilkenny to pull off a final upset.

Galway just aren’t winning their matches; they are overpowering the teams which have stood in their way. Their level of consistency is admirable for young players starting off on the inter-county journey, while the team’s temperament appears to be bombproof, no matter what is thrown at them.

Having romped through Leinster, Galway should have been a bit rattled by being only level (0-4 each) after 20 minutes and being a little fortunate not to have been behind; or when Cork stormed out of the blocks at the start of the second half by hitting 1-4 to just a solitary point in reply, but there was never any trace of panic in their ranks.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Gardaí and IFA issue a joint appeal on summer road safety

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Galway IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chair Teresa Roche

GARDAÍ and the IFA have issued a joint appeal to all road users to take extra care as the silage season gets under way across the country.

Silage harvesting started in many parts of Galway last week – and over the coming month, the sight of tractors and trailers on rural roads will be getting far more frequent.

Inspector Conor Madden, who is in charge of Galway Roads Policing, told the Farming Tribune that a bit of extra care and common-sense from all road users would go a long way towards preventing serious collisions on roads this summer.

“One thing I would ask farmers and contractors to consider is to try and get more experienced drivers working for them.

“Tractors have got faster and bigger – and they are also towing heavy loads of silage – so care and experience are a great help in terms of accident prevention,” Inspector Madden told the Farming Tribune.

He said that tractor drivers should always be aware of traffic building up behind them and to pull in and let these vehicles pass, where it was safe to do so.

“By the same token, other road users should always exercise extra care; drive that bit slower; and ‘pull in’ that bit more, when meeting tractors and heavy machinery.

“We all want to see everyone enjoying a safe summer on our roads – that extra bit of care, and consideration for other roads users can make a huge difference,” said Conor Madden.

He also advised motorists and tractor drivers to be acutely aware of pedestrians and cyclists on the roads during the summer season when more people would be out walking and cycling on the roads.

The IFA has also joined in on the road safety appeal with Galway IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chair Teresa Roche asking all road users to exercise that extra bit of care and caution.

“We are renewing our annual appeal for motorists to be on the look out for tractors, trailers and other agricultural machinery exiting from fields and farmyards,” she said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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