12-year-old Anastasiia was accidentally sent to a Polish refugee camp while her brother flew to Australia.
Two Ukrainian siblings were reunited at an Australian airport after a miscommunication saw the pair sent to two different countries. Kyrylo, 9, boarded a flight for Australia but his 12-year-old sister, Anastasiia, was sent to a Polish refugee camp. To make matters worse, they were alone, as their parents decided to stay back to fight against the Russian attack on Ukraine. The siblings were finally reunited at Sydney’s International Airport. Kyrylo ran toward his sister Anastasiia as soon as he saw her and hugged her, relieved that they were finally together, reported 7news.
The siblings were separated at Poland’s Warsaw Chopin Airport after an Emirates airline miscommunication. The sibling's guardian based in Sydney, Dmytro Bablinyuk, scrambled to get both of them in one place. They also struggled with contacting the kids' parents because of the war. “We lost contact with (their) father, we didn’t have contact with (their) mother, we knew Emirates only boarded Kyrylo, and we lost contact with Anastasiia,” said Bablinyuk. “Their mother is a doctor. Their father is staying near Kyiv, he’s in the armed forces of Ukraine defending Kyiv currently.”
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke confirmed it wasn't a policy issue but rather an administrative mistake from the airline. “That was an airline issue, not a policy or Commonwealth issue,” said Hawke. The issue was vaccine-related. Anastasiia did test negative for Coronavirus but she ended up being separated from her brother. The siblings were also exempted from Australia’s travel restriction policy that prevents anyone who's unvaccinated from entering the country. Despite Anastasiia meeting all legal requirements to enter the country, a miscommunication saw her being moved to a refugee camp in Poland. The Australian government has issued nearly 5000 visas to Ukrainians fleeing their country in the wake of the attack and among the 500 have already traveled to Australia.
New Zelensky: working on a visit by Pope Francis to Ukraine. Calls on Ukrainians to keep fighting. “We will not get tired. We rest when we win” pic.twitter.com/Fhl1XTJrSw— Oliver Carroll (@olliecarroll) March 23, 2022
It was the siblings' guardian Bablinyuk who raised the issue and drew it to the attention of the public and the government. Australian Department of Foreign Affairs launched an investigation into the matter. Those who were at the terminal said their fear and panic were very palpable. “I was very touched, I could feel their fear. It was heartbreaking,” said one person at the terminal. She was separated from Kyrylo for 6 days before reuniting at the Sydney airport.
Kateryna Argyrou from the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations said the Ukrainian community had been helping with accomodating the refugees so far but warned the numbers could sharply rise in the coming weeks. “We are dealing with tens of people at a time now, if it grows to hundreds or thousands then absolutely the community will be overwhelmed,” she said. Argyrou warned that a lot of work needs to be done to make their living in Australia sustainable over a longer period of time. While accommodation is always the first priority, Argyrou said she has been getting requests for food, clothes, mobile phones, childcare, and schooling among other things. Argyrou noted that healthcare was also an issue considering they cannot access Medicare.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who has ties to Ukraine called on Australia to do more in welcoming Ukrainian refugees. “Why aren’t we offering the hand of friendship during this time?” asked Palaszczuk. Her grandfather hailed from a part of Poland that is now considered Ukrainian territory. She said, "we should be doing more for refugees that are fleeing Ukraine."
Australia announced this week that it was expanding sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine, reported Al Jazeera. The country has banned all exports of alumina and bauxite to limit Moscow’s capacity to produce aluminium. “Russia relies on Australia for nearly 20 percent of its alumina needs,” said the Australian government.
Russia's attack on Ukraine is a developing story, and we’ll update as we learn more. Information is swiftly changing and Upworthy is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication