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Ukrainian family escapes war, finds refuge in Phoenix

More than half a million Ukrainians have escaped, but the number is growing rapidly.
Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 9:45 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Diana Bavlova is among the thousands who escaped Ukraine as Russian forces invaded her home. Now, the 23-year-old is finding refuge in Phoenix. Last week, as tensions rose, she fled with her younger sister, husband and brother-in-law. They got on one of the last flights out of Kyiv and made it to Mexico. It was an emotional and bittersweet journey.

“It lasted over 13 hours. All the 13 hours I was thinking I will never meet my parents again because who knows,” said Bavlova.

Bavlova said her parents are still in Ukraine. Meanwhile, she was separated from her sister as they tried to get to Arizona. Bavlova said she spent time in a Yuma detention center but was released Sunday and safely made it to Phoenix. However, her younger sister is still stuck in the Eloy Detention Center.

“We were running away only from the war and scared, and we thought this country would help us,” said Bavlova.

A Ukrainian family is thankful to have escaped the conflict after arriving in Phoneix but worries for their family members fighting back home.

Bavlova said she hopes her sister is released soon. Meanwhile, her family and friends in Ukraine hide in bomb shelters as the fighting intensifies. “I thought it was just like a dream. I was sleeping, and it was some nightmare, but when I landed in Cancun, I realized there is no way home anymore,” said Bavlova.

If you would like to help, Saint Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in downtown Phoenix is collecting monetary donations to support Ukraine and those trying to escape. Visit unwla.org. to donate.