'They have nothing now': Ukrainians in the Triangle watch as beloved country ravaged by war

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Ukrainians living in the Triangle are devastated by the images and stories from family and friends still inside their war-torn home country.

Ulyana Marchenko who welcomed her sister and other family members who fled from Ukraine to Raleigh earlier this month said her 11-year-old niece had always wanted to come to the U.S., but not like this.

"Now she's here, and she was crying," said Marchenko. "I said, 'Maria, why are you crying?' I said, 'You should be happy you are in the United States, everything is good here.' And she said, 'I didn't want to come here because of war. My dad is back in Ukraine. I want to be there with him. I want to support him. I want to fight.'"

Marchenko's parents are still in western Ukraine; she said they and her great grandmother do not want to leave the only home they've ever known, even amidst the fear and reality of Russia's escalating invasion.

Many of her friends have escaped the bombings in their neighborhoods and become refugees, traveling with sick children, trying to get into neighboring Poland.

"No one can believe that it's going on right now," she said. "They had normal lives. They had houses, they had cars, like here, they had beautiful grass. They just went to their job and their kids go to the daycare. It was just normal life like we are living and one day, everything changed. They have nothing now."

For now, Marchenko can only check in by phone with her parents and other relatives as she sees the gut-wrenching images of Russia's attacks on civilians and millions of Ukrainians fleeing their beloved country as refugees.

"My biggest fear is that all the world will just accept it and will live with it," she said. "But it shouldn't be like that."
Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.