Emmanuel and Sylvester, IT professionals from Nigeria, said they were heartbroken to leave Kyiv, a city they have come to love over the past four years. After not leaving their apartment for five days and sleeping last night in an air-raid shelter, they hoped to find a train that would take them west, where they could enter the EU and catch a flight from return.
“My mother told me she would kill me before [Putin] if I didn’t leave,” Emmanuel said.
They chose to try to reach Hungary, they said, after reading reports that Ukrainian police and border guards have harassed Nigerian citizens trying to flee and that Polish authorities are refusing entry to people like them.
Nearby, Molvina, mother of two girls aged 10 and 5, cried on the floor of the station’s international concourse. With their little terrier Kompot, named after the homemade fruit juice popular in that part of the world, she hoped they could make it to Poland.
“We don’t know what to do after this,” she said. “All we have is here now.”
All she managed to take were three small bags of possessions and the dog.
“We hope we will be back soon. We will be come back soon,” she said defiantly.
She said she left Georgia for Ukraine after Russia invaded her home country in 2008. She has spent the past 14 years building a new life, only for Putin to destroy her again.
Behind her, people lined up at Cafe France in the International Room, which usually serves buttery croissants and steaming cappuccinos. On Tuesday, he was selling simple Lipton tea in plastic cups and slices of white bread. Around 2:30 p.m. the tea ran out, so the cafe dispensed hot water to keep people warm while they waited.