'Situation no better' - Pupil's photography documents Ukraine war as it enters third year

  • ITV News Meridian's Andy Dickenson's extended report on a photography exhibit in Brighton documenting the Ukrainian war

Ukranian refugees, now studying at a school in Brighton, have shared the devastating effect the war is having on their families and homeland.

This month marks the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine - and the war that's followed.

Brighton College, which has taken in 22 refugees from the country, has launched a photography exhibition documenting the effects of the conflict.

The war has claimed more than 10,000 civilian lives, causing many more to flee.

Among them, thousands of children, including Liia Dmytrenko, who is now studying at the top Sussex school.

Liia Dmytrenko, refugee and photographer Credit: ITV News Meridian

Liia, aged 18, said: "It's really hard because the situation is horrible and it's not better than a year before, or two years before. I want to make people think how they would live in this situation.

"Of course, I don't want anyone to be in a situation like me or other Ukrainians, but I just want for them to think in a small moment what they would do."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in action in the two years since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.

Mr Zelensky said the number was far lower than estimates given by Russian President Vladimir Putin's government.

One of the photographs at the exhibit in Brighton Credit: ITV Meridian

Refugee and Brighton College pupil Lev Zhahlo, said: "I was very confused, like this is possible in 2022? And I was very, very scared, terrified, disturbed that something like that can happen.

"My mum, she's now in the army. She's a soldier. So she says nothing because it's private information. But I don't think it will be over very soon."

Liia's photos, centred around Kyiv, have gone on display to remind students of a war some fear is being forgotten.

The exhibition is called 'Let Right Prevail' Credit: ITV News Meridian

Steve Marshall-Taylor, from the school, said all refugees who have settled there have struggled with varying degrees of trauma - but are also adapting to a new life.

"Some of them arrived with us with very little English at all," he said. "Some came with a parent, some of them came with no one and had made their way across completely on their own.

"One of the older boys has really wrestled with that sense of, 'should I be back there? Was I right to leave the country?' But from his family's point of view, they want him to make the most of this opportunity. I know a number of them are keen to go back."

Liia added: "I believe that the situation will get better, but we can't predict anything. So I just hope for that."

As the war enters its third year, Liia hopes the photographs will help the school and her fellow pupils find the light within the darkness of the ongoing conflict.

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