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​People fleeing Ukraine hope to return soon

By Viet Anh   March 25, 2022 | 04:30 pm PT
Many Vietnamese who fled war zones in Ukraine expect to return soon when the conflict ends.

Lan, a woman who refused to reveal her surname, came to Vietnam on March 10 through Poland with her husband and their six-year-old son.

Her family is living in her parents' house in the northeastern city of Hai Phong.

She has been living in Kharkiv for nine years, selling clothes in a market to earn a living. Before Russia launched its attack in late February, she had imported goods for a new season, and so has lost all of it in the conflict. She only has around US$1,000 left.

Lan is not aware of job opportunities in Vietnam, but has to find one to survive.

"I am confused, I don't know what to do next."

Her son has to go to school, and she is worried since she has been told that their residence registration might be difficult.

Lan is among many people who were brought back to Vietnam by rescue flights in a huge evacuation operation.

As of March 17 Vietnam had organized five flights and brought back nearly 1,400 Vietnamese. In all, an estimated 4,600 Vietnamese nationals had left Ukraine and reached neighboring countries.

Some of them have chosen to find a new life in European nations such as Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, and Austria.

Before the conflict began, there were around 7,000 Vietnamese nationals living in Ukraine, mainly in Kharkiv, Odessa and Kyiv.

Vietnamese people coming back from Ukraine carry out immigration procedures at Noi Bai Airport, Hanoi, on March 8, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Vietnamese people coming back from Ukraine carry out immigration procedures at Noi Bai Airport, Hanoi, on March 8, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Tran Trang, who has temporary accommodation in a relative's house in Hai Duong Province, around 60 km from Hanoi, says she and her husband have not figured out what kind of job they could do in the coming time.

She spent a decade in eastern Ukraine, and had a clothes shop in Barabashova, the country's largest market.

"I want to find a job but I cannot do it at this moment because I have to take care of my four-month-old baby."

Le Thang, who has lived in Kyiv for nearly 20 years, returned to Vietnam in early March and is living in the house of his parents, who have passed away, in Ninh Binh Province to the south of Hanoi.

He was a contractor in the furniture sector, providing jobs for workers from central Asia and the Middle East.

When the conflict erupted, he considered going to other countries to settle down but finally decided to return home. He plans to consult friends in Vietnam about what job to seek.

"I have no idea because things are new here after [all these years]."

Hoa, who came aboard a rescue flight on March 19, says she and her husband fled to Poland and took refuge in a temple until they left for Vietnam.

She is sick after several days of travel from Ukraine, where she has lived for 12 years, and the resultant stress.

She is living in a house belonging to her husband's parents in the northern Thai Binh Province. The only good thing so far is that she gets to reunite with her son who has been living in Vietnam with his grandparents and studying here.

Hoa and her son reunite in Noi Bai Airport, Hanoi, on March 19, 2022. Photo courtesy of Hoa.

Hoa and her son reunite in Noi Bai Airport, Hanoi, on March 19, 2022. Photo courtesy of Hoa

Hoa says she is like the majority of Vietnamese in Ukraine, who sell things in various markets for a living and do not have any other professional experience, and so needs time to find a suitable job in Vietnam.

"I hope I can find one to start over."

Looking forward to Ukraine return

Lan says she and others in her community had never imagined they would one day have to flee as refugees. Kharkiv has been one of the hardest hit cities in the Russian attack.

She is very anxious and impatient because all her properties are there.

"I'm counting the days, waiting for the fighting to end, so that I can return."

Hoa and Thang are not sure when they can pick up the pieces and return to their old life.

Thang has an added worry: his Ukrainian wife and daughter have not left the country.

Trang says she will definitely return to Ukraine.

"It is my second hometown."

 
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