Silence for Ukraine at Belfast art sale two years on Russian invasion

Two years have now passed since Russia's full scale invasion of Ukraine.

Today at Ulster University, surrounded by donated paintings, a minutes' silence was held for those who have died in the conflict to date.

According to the UN, the death-toll is over 10,000.

These paintings are for sale to raise money for an ambulance to send to Ukraine. The Ukrainians in Northern Ireland Community Group has already sent seven ambulances to the war-zone since February 2022.

The youngest artist to contribute to the latest fundraiser is 11 years old, and the oldest is 90.

Some of the art has been created in NI by Ukrainians and by locals, while other pieces have been sent from Ukraine.

Meanwhile on Saturday, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the UK would back Kyiv "until they prevail" and King Charles praised Ukraine's "determination and strength".

Olag Shenkaruk is from the Ukrainians in NI Community Group.

"We want to show people that the war is still continuing," he said.

"A lot of people are still in the war zone, dying everyday, and this exhibition represents a lot of different artwork, a lot of Ukrainians, a lot of local painters."Yulia Zhylinska's husband Vasyl is a Ukrainian soldier. The mother of two is a refugee in County Antrim, working in the education sector.

"He is ok, he is fighting all the time," she said.

"He is on the frontline since the war started two years ago and he is so happy that we are here, that we are safe," she said.

Yulia said she is grateful to NI people for "opening hmes and hearts" to her, but that she hopes to return to Ukraine to "rebuild our homes and our country" when the war ends.Yulia Horodnycha, 26, has only returned to Dnipro once since she fled the war.

The visit was to see her 87-year-old grandmother, who she thought she may never see alive again.

"It was very hard to leave," she said.

"I was desperate... crying... I was afraid that all Ukraine would be destroyed," she said, reflecting on the start of the war.

She says two years on, it is very hard as she has lost friends and relatives, but that she feels some pride.

"We are still resilient, we are still fighting back to protect our country, so even though it is very sad I am glad that we are still able to fight back."

A rally also took place in Omagh on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the war.

Attendees held posters with messages including "Stop the War".

Vigil in Omagh

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