Ukrainian Eurovision winner recounts ‘terrifying’ ordeal after fleeing Kyiv with her young children

Ukrainian Eurovision winner recounts 'terrifying' ordeal after fleeing from her country

Ukraine’s Eurovision winner Jamala has recounted her “terrifying” ordeal after she fled the country with her two children.

In an interview with LGBT+ radio station GlitterBeam, Jamala explained that leaving her home and her husband after she heard explosions near her home in Kyiv was one of the “most difficult decisions in my life”.

“What is happening back at home right now is not a crisis, it is not a military operation. This is a full scale war,” she explained on the radio show.

“I was faced with one of the most difficult decisions in my life, to leave my home with my children, my two little sons… it was an absolutely terrifying feeling.”

She explained that her husband – who she has contact with “every hour” – has remained in Ukraine, and has “organised a volunteer organisation with the aim to help women and children.”

The singer added: “It’s a real, cruel, unfair war against the entire population of Ukraine.

“People are losing their homes and mostly children, women and the elderly have been forced to flee Ukraine.”

Jamala won Eurovision for Ukraine in 2016 with the song “1944”, whose lyrics concern the deportation of the Crimean Tartars in the 1940s carried out by the Soviet government under Joseph Stalin.

“I wrote this song and I thought that I wrote about the past… but it’s reality now,” she said.

“No matter how many warnings we have heard about how war could start, we could have never believed that something so horrible could happen. In the centre of Europe. In the 21st century.”

In the interview, Jamala detailed the harrowing ordeal of explaining to her children what had happened, and why the family needed to flee.

She told GlitterBeam: “I told to them that mommy really needs your help. You should eat what I can give you. You should sleep when we have time to sleep.

“They’re really brave kids, because five days in a car, it’s a really long way.”


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In a separate interview with GlitterBeam, Lenny Emson, executive director of Kyiv Pride, explained that his team is safe, but that the situation in Ukraine is particularly dangerous for the LGBT+ community.

He said: “In general, I would say they divide in two groups. One group is: ‘I will stay and I will fight’. The other group is like ‘I’m too vulnerable to stay here’.

“So we support those who want to stay… we can we help with money for food, we help with equipment and shelter, and we support those who are relocating… We help with crossing the border. We help with money for transportation and relocation.”

After urging the global LGBT+ community to help with the situation in Ukraine, he said: “We’re really grateful for the support because we feel it. We feel that our back is covered. We feel that people in Europe in other countries are really standing for us.

“Queer people, people who absolutely have nothing to do with Ukrainian nation, but they are in solidarity with Ukrainians.

“Together we will win, and together we will achieve what we want to achieve. Thank you for  being with us.”