Tuesday, February 7

“You give them very little and they appreciate it a lot”

We are helping a Polish cook who collaborates with Jose Andres. We peel potatoes, onions… We are giving 4,000 meals a day. And another 6,000 in another point located in this same city. People tell us terrible stories.

This is how he relates his routine of these days Ariane Riera Deym, a volunteer from Barcelona who has spent several days in the Polish city of Medyka – bordering Ukraine – lending a hand in the care of Ukrainians fleeing their country to be safe from attacks by the Russian army. Together with her husband, Alejo de Pallejá, she is collaborating with a foundation of a Polish chef, Mikolaj, who in turn supports the NGO World Central Kitchen, of the Asturian chef José Andrés. LA NUEVA ESPAÑA, a newspaper that belongs to the same group as this medium, contacted her by telephone at noon yesterday.

–I am here hand in hand with an engineer friend, Lluís, who is very dedicated. It is the third time that he has come so far in the conflict. He has seen and heard tremendous things.

Ariane Riera is a journalist and photographer. Her husband, biologist and industrial developer. Both are seeing and hearing high-voltage stories, as if taken from another screen of History outside the 21st century. One of them is from the same morning yesterday, Friday.

– It was a very emotional scene. A group of young Ukrainian musicians has arrived and have begun to sing the Ukrainian anthem “a cappella”. The emotional impact has been tremendous.

The stories are very hard. One of them is linked to yesterday’s most striking war episode: the Russians bombed the vicinity of the city of Lviv by launching six cruise missiles from a submarine located in the Black Sea. Two of those Russian-made missiles, with a maximum range of 3,000 kilometers, were destroyed in the air by anti-aircraft forces of the Ukrainian Western Command. The rest hit near the airport in Lviv, a city that has become the crossing point used by most Ukrainians fleeing to the European Union through Poland.

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–Olena, a very cute 34-year-old girl, has just arrived with her two-year-old daughter Veronika. They were in Lviv. After the bombing, they got on a train and fled the city as best they could. They are now traveling to Hamburg. Her husband has had to stay to fight. He has told me through tears that Putin is a child killer.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), this bombardment, by affecting what until now was the refuge of many people fleeing from the east of the country, could cause a new wave of displaced people towards Poland and other neighboring countries of Ukraine.

-People leave their country with what they can and with no known destination. Almost all of them are women and children because the men cannot leave the country in case they are called to fight – testifies Ariane Riera.

Along with many heartbreaking scenes, the Barcelona volunteer is witnessing actions that show amazing courage.

-Here is a heroine who enters Ukraine every day to bring sick people who are in hospitals. She says that she feels privileged because both she and her daughter, who lives in Paris, are safe.

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Ariane Riera and Alejo de Pallejá are thoroughly experiencing what need, solidarity and gratitude are.

-It is very gratifying to help these people. You give them very little and they appreciate it very much.


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