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Inside the amazing Red Cross hospital saving the lives of babies fleeing Ukraine

FOR Tania and her five-month-old son Alexei, a reassuring check-up from a Red Cross doctor meant one less thing for the young mum to worry over.

It had taken her two days to reach the safety of the clinic in Zahony, Hungary, after she was forced to flee her home in Kamianske, eastern Ukraine, with the tot in her arms.

Red Cross doc examines little Alexei, held by mum Tania

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Red Cross doc examines little Alexei, held by mum TaniaCredit: Darren Fletcher
Vera Humzhiak with Veronika, right, and son Artem

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Vera Humzhiak with Veronika, right, and son ArtemCredit: Darren Fletcher

Dr Julia Mokacy, a paediatrician who volunteers at the makeshift clinic less than a mile from the ­border, checked little Alexei over before giving him a clean bill of health.

Mum Tania, 26, told The Sun: “In our city, it was still relatively quiet and calm, but we had started to see Ukrainian air defence planes flying past above our home. We could see them shooting down Russian planes.



“That was when my husband insisted that we leave because he was very worried about what could happen to our child.”

Working alongside Dr Mokacy was Istvan Csige, a nurse and the team leader at the medical centre, which is helped by donations from The Sun’s Ukraine Fund campaign.

‘The women we see are often traumatised’

He said: “New mums and pregnant women often come with the same problem. They have been in a very stressful situation and it’s not good for them or their baby.”

At the H-HERO clinic they can be prescribed medication by Red Cross doctors and nurses who volunteer their time to help refugees.
Istvan explained that sometimes it is just about offering them support and a safe space to recover from their journey.

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He said: “The women we see here are often traumatised and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a big issue. As Red Cross volunteers we make them feel safe and protected — it’s all we can do.

“Being here is a good opportunity for them to stop. Many of them have been running for a long time. Here they can stop, calm down, and rest.

“They can have a shower here and start to feel more normal. It’s all about rebuilding their comfort zone a little bit.

“The children are the most vulnerable in this conflict because they are so small and cannot communicate their needs. At H-HERO there are toys they can play with and plenty of nappies, food and milk.”

Some families were only passing through the facility for a few hours for medical assistance before they continued on the train to Budapest.

Others stayed for a few days with their children, and there are dormitories set up with room for 300 people. Sitting with her children on a bunk bed, Natalia Kuokmany showed me pictures of her now-ruined home city, Mariupol.

She left the area more than two weeks ago as the conflict raged.

Natalia, 35, said: “We made it by car to Polohy but got stuck there again after a bridge was blown up.

“We sheltered underground in a basement for 16 days together. It was incredibly scary and we could hear the shelling above us.”

Eventually Natalia, her daughter Dorea, two, and her son Stepan, 17, were able to escape and make it by train to Hungary.

At the Red Cross centre, they could rest for a few days with Natalia’s sister Milagres, 23, and her children Aleksander, three, and two-year-old Dasha.

Natalia Kuokmany and her two-year-old daughter Dorea

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Natalia Kuokmany and her two-year-old daughter DoreaCredit: Darren Fletcher
Istvyn, Kiera, Galmiella, Dr Julia and Dr Vitaliy

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Istvyn, Kiera, Galmiella, Dr Julia and Dr VitaliyCredit: Darren Fletcher

On her phone, Natalia looked at pictures of the nursery which Dorea used to attend, which is now a burned-out shell of a building.

Milagres told The Sun: “In Mariupol, they have no way of burying their dead. We are just told to put them out on the balcony or bury them in the back garden.

“Think of how many children haven’t been able to be buried.

“We have heard of newborn babies who have died.

“We had to leave — there was no option. We are so grateful to be here with the Red Cross.

“We are very, very tired but we can finally sleep.”

‘We saw explosions near our house and ran’

For Ukrainians who decided to carry on another four hours on the train to Budapest, they were met by Red Cross volunteers who gave them hot chocolate, toys and a place to rest.

Ildiko Buncsik, head of the charity in Budapest, was there to greet them along with dozens of her helpers all dressed in red jackets bearing the Red Cross symbol — instantly recognisable as an emblem of humanitarian assistance and a sign of hope.

At least 291,230 Ukrainian refugees have crossed into Hungary since the start of the fighting, according to the UN.

Within minutes of arriving, two-year-old Veronika was already smiling and playing with soft toys in a makeshift creche set up in a corner of the busy railway station.

Wearing a fluffy pink hat, she was laughing as she played with a toy watermelon with a smiley face on it.

Refugee family stepping off train in Zahony

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Refugee family stepping off train in ZahonyCredit: Darren Fletcher

Her mum Vera Humzhiak, 34, told The Sun that they had been forced to grab a few possessions and flee the country after missiles fell near their home.

She said: “We saw the explosions near our house so we had to run. I had to get out with my children.”

Vera’s husband is still in Ukraine and has joined the defence forces.
She plans to take Veronika and Artem, five, to Berlin where they will stay with friends.

Red Cross boss Ildiko, who is a volunteer, said people come because they can see their red jackets and they know that means help is nearby.
Hungary has five border posts with Ukraine and several towns, including Zahony, where the Red Cross has turned public buildings into emergency centres for refugees.

Ildiko said: “Our aim is to give immediate aid to people coming from the trains and we are giving them hot tea, hot soup and some food.

“Then they go either to another country or stay for a few days.

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“It’s very heartbreaking when you see poor families who are just taking what they need to survive.

“They are very, very tired. Especially on the late night and early morning trains. They are traumatised.”

Help those fleeing conflict with The Sun’s Ukraine Fund

PICTURES of women and children fleeing the horror of Ukraine’s devastated towns and cities have moved Sun readers to tears.

Many of you want to help the five million caught in the chaos — and now you can, by donating to The Sun’s Ukraine Fund.

Give as little as £3 or as much as you can afford and every penny will be donated to the Red Cross on the ground helping women, children, the old, the infirm and the wounded.

Donate here to help The Sun’s fund

Or text to 70141 from UK mobiles

£3 — text SUN£3
£5 — text SUN£5
£10 — text SUN£10

Texts cost your chosen donation amount (e.g. £5) +1 standard message (we receive 100%). For full T&Cs visit redcross.org.uk/mobile

The Ukraine Crisis Appeal will support people in areas currently affected and those potentially affected in the future by the crisis.

In the unlikely event that the British Red Cross raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help them prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters anywhere in the world.

For more information visit https://donate.redcross.org.uk/appeal/disaster-fund




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