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A round trip to Ukraine to repatriate his in-laws to Nîmes: “It was no longer tenable for them”

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A week ago, Bernard Aknin traveled 4,500 km in three days, from Nîmes to the Polish-Ukrainian border to pick up his wife’s parents who lived in Soumy.

Bernard Aknin and his wife Lora, a Ukrainian living in Nîmes since 2008, just made a round trip by car to the Polish-Ukrainian border a week ago to pick up Anatoli and Valentina, Lora’s parents, who lived in Sumy, in northern Ukraine, east of kyiv. “It was no longer tenable for them thereexplains Lora. They are old (respectively 87 and 82) and require care that they could no longer find at home.

Her mother Valentina suffers from osteoarthritis and especially blood pressure problems for which she has daily treatment. Her father Anatoli fractured his femur neck last September and still has difficulty moving around with a walker.

“From the beginning of the conflict, I was very worried, says Lora. Sumy is 30 km from the Russian border and was attacked very quickly. Fortunately, we had frequent contact via the internet to find out about their situation.”

Anatoli and Valentina couldn’t go down to the shelters and took refuge where they could, in the bathroom for example, while the sirens sounded several times a day.

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Quickly, things got complicated: no more medicine, the doctor who no longer wanted to come and great difficulty in getting supplies. “In addition, they wanted to stay: they thought it was not going to last…”

A minibus lent by an association

After imagining different scenarios to have them repatriated, Bernard and Lora saw an opportunity present itself: “A bus driver from Sumy agreed to take them to the border with the Krakow region in Poland.”

On Friday March 25, they took the road to Saint-Etienne: they were put in contact with the APIJ association. fr who lent them a nine-seater minibus. “My car is too small and renting was complicated because we were going to cross four countries”, explains Bernard Aknin.

His son-in-law Matthieu accompanied them so as to ensure relays at the wheel: they traveled 4,500 km in three days…

“She would not have lasted a week in this state”

Apart from the hours of waiting on both sides of the border, the trip went relatively well: a stop 100 km from Krakow on the way out, a night’s sleep in Nuremberg on the way back. On Monday evening the 28th, they had returned. But Valentina felt worse and worse. She had to be taken to the emergency room in Caremeau.

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“She was very well taken care of. She suffered from pneumonia of the pleura and had very congested lungs. the doctors estimate that she would not have lasted a week in this state. She is still hospitalized but her condition is improving day by day. For his part, Anatoli saw a doctor who made him pass a complete battery of examinations.

Bernard Aknin declared their arrival at the prefecture. They are now waiting for the summons for the formalities. With his wife, they plan to keep the in-laws with them for as long as necessary.

They are already talking about going back to Sumy… They have spent their whole lives there.

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