Ukrainian mother 'relieved' at reunion with daughter in Stockton after escaping air raid sirens

  • Video report by Kris Jepson

A mother has reunited with her daughter in Stockton-on-Tees after escaping the war in Ukraine.

Stepaniia Hoshovska had been determined to stay in her home near the West Ukrainian city of Lviv, but after weeks of air raid sirens and bombings nearby, she had to flee.

She told ITV Tyne Tees: "I feel like it was very scary because even after the siren, when I was coming home to the house, it could be after 30 minutes another siren, and again, you have to go and hide myself.

"Before we went to sleep we were thinking should we undress or go to sleep dressed.

"The bomb shelters are about half a kilometre to walk and obviously when it’s sirens, and it’s a warning, there’s no lights on the streets and it’s very scary."

The moment that really pushed her over the edge was when she learned dozens of children had been killed by a bomb blast in a nearby neighbourhood.

She explained: "In one bomb, near Lviv, it was 35 young boys being killed in one go.

"It’s too many children, too many young boys being killed.

"I thought they were so young - they had all their lives ahead of them and their life has just been ended."

The war was taking its toll on Stepaniia, but back on Teesside her daughter Mariya Ptashnyk was living on her nerves, worrying about her mum and having to stay strong each time she called.

She said: "I carried something on my shoulders and now I’ve left that on the side, because I was with her on Skype five or six times everyday, through the night.

"As soon as the sirens started she’d be phoning me any time, 24 hours.

"A few times she said to me, ‘maybe this is the last talk. Maybe I will never see you again’."

Mariya took matters into her own hands and arranged for her mum to be transported to the Polish border where she would eventually meet her.

She said it was like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders, the moment they reunited and hugged.

Mariya said: "I was like without any emotions. I was so much stressed over this war situation, when I seen her I said ‘oh thank God’, now she could rely on me."

Stepaniia added: "When I saw her, I was relieved because I knew it would be easier and there is no sirens anymore."

Now in the safety of her daughter's North East home, Stepaniia cannot wait for the day she can return to her homeland, but she is now haunted by what that may mean.

She ended the interview, saying: "I’ve lived all of my life in Ukraine and now I’m thinking if there’s anything left there, do I go back to there?"