Refugees in the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia region manage to re-gain Ukrainian territories

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Issued on: 25/07/2022 – 19:18Modified: 25/07/2022 – 19:21

As Ukrainian counter-offensives gather momentum to try and win the city of Kherson back, inhabitants in certain Russian-occupied territories have been advised to leave. Russian forces are letting them out, including those in the region of Zaporizhzhia, or those from the devastated port city of Mariupol. But only refugees who pass time-consuming and stressful checks known as “filtration” manage to leave. FRANCE 24’s correspondents met some of them.


In this reception centre near Zaporizhzhia, many internally displaced Ukrainians have come from the South, fleeing Russian-occupied areas.

“We feel like we’ve crossed into another world. As soon as we crossed we realised that we’re in a free country because here it’s clean. There by the checkpoint it’s so dirty and there are so many Russian soldiers,” said Yulia, who just arrived from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia region after fleeing the region of Kherson.

People queue at that checkpoint, in cars or buses, for four to five days on average. They have to pass what the Russians call “filtration” before being released into Ukrainian-held territory.

Other refugees say they left mainly because the Ukrainian army asked them to. “They said you’ll be giving us a better chance in the fight here if you evacuate with your children,” one refugee told our reporters. “Anyway our kids went to Ukrainian school, and now the Russians are setting up their schools there, with a Russian curriculum – we don’t want that,” another one adds.

Most new internally displaced people these days are from Kherson region, but there are still dozens arriving from Mariupol, a city Russia occupied in May after intense bombardment.

Click on the live player above to watch FRANCE 24’s special report.