Thousands of Ukrainian pilgrims visit the small Bosnian town of Medjugorje every year.

Currently, Medjugorje hosts about 200 Ukrainian refugee women with children.

Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina:

Away from home, Mariana Sova could only pray for Ukraine and end the war from a Catholic pilgrimage site in southern Bosnia where she found safe haven from fighting.

“I pray for my country because Russia is killing people there,” said Sova, whose husband was left behind to help with the war effort in Ukraine. “I want it to stop.”

Sova fled her home in Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine after Russian missiles targeted a nearby airport.

Thousands of Ukrainian pilgrims visit the small Bosnian town of Medjugorje every year.

This time, however, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month, Sova and about 150 other Ukrainian women and children will remain at the sacred site in Bosnia for the foreseeable future.

The arrival of refugees in Bosnia marks a complete turnaround for the once war-torn country, where a brutal conflict during the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s forced nearly two million from their homes.

In the decades since the end of the war, hundreds of thousands have left Bosnia to escape economic stagnation and political stagnation in the Balkan state.

But with conflict erupting again across Europe, Bosnians are preparing to open their doors to refugees from Ukraine.

“Many of us have so far managed to accommodate a total of 150 people,” said Davar Ljubi, head of the hotel business association of Medjugorje.

Ljubic said they were expecting three or four more buses with about 200 people to arrive in the coming days.

– refugee crisis –

“We went through something similar about 30 years ago and we understand how these people feel,” said the owner of a house where 12 Ukrainians were living.

“Ukrainians are warmly welcomed and they can stay as long as they want,” said the person who requested anonymity. “As long as I have bread, they will also have bread.”

Medjugorje, once a poor town near the border with Croatia, has gained thanks to a constant stream of pilgrims to the area after the Virgin Mary’s appearance to six teenagers in 1981.

More than two million people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of the former Soviet republic, the United Nations reported this week. He described it as the fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II.

“Behind the unbroken figures lie two million stories of isolation, suffering and loss,” said Filippo Grandi, the head of the UN refugee agency.

The Bosnian government said it was preparing to welcome more refugees in two different places in the country, which could house some 500 people.

But even as thousands flee Ukraine every day, others plan to return to help evacuate more people.

Vitaly – a driver for a Ukrainian travel agency that offered regular trips to Medjugorje – said he would return there soon. His family is sheltering more than a dozen people there who fled after shelling in the eastern city of Kharkiv.

But for others their old homes will stay away until the war is over.

“We dream of returning home and resuming our lives and work,” Sowa said.

(This story has not been edited by UttarPradeshLive.Com staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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