Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Fortitude and flowers: Through heart-breaking scenes of war, remarkable kindness is shown

We watched utterly heart-breaking and desperate scenes as elderly people, children, and the infirm fled the besieged town of Irpin, on the north-western outskirts of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

There is no official safe corridor but those who’d been trapped in their homes in the town for days took advantage of a small window of quiet to make a break for it and reach the relatively safer area beyond.

Several wept with relief as they emerged into the arms of soldiers and emergency volunteers.

Pictures for Alex Crawford Piece/blog - 
Irpin evacuations
Picture Caption:We saw an elderly woman - like so many unable to walk - being taken up the steep muddy riverbanks in a shopping trolley.
Credit:  Chris Cunningham
An elderly woman, unable to walk, was taken up a steep muddy riverbank in a shopping trolley. Pic: Chris Cunningham

Many spoke of being under attack for days in Irpin as Russian troops and tanks moved into parts of the town shooting and taking up positions.


All the latest developments in Ukraine – live

One man told us he’d seen tanks moving around his apartment block in the north edges of the town and said he thought the Russians had control of about a third of the town.

“Yesterday two civilians were buried. …one woman and one child,” he told us, “and one from the armed forces.

More on Russia

“Two weeks ago, the children were in the same park, in the square….” His voice fades away with emotion as I fill in the gap. “Playing?,” I ask. He nods, overwhelmed with emotion.

Pictures for Alex Crawford Piece/blog - 
Irpin evacuations
Picture shows A constant stream of people crossing over the destroyed bridge out of Irpin
Credit:  Chris Cunningham
A constant stream of people crossing over the destroyed bridge out of Irpin. Pic: Chris Cunningham

The courage of these people in these most difficult and risky of circumstances is quite astonishing. Witnessing how they’re all pulling together is an absolute inspiration.

Soldiers, police, volunteer emergency workers, and journalists were all helping lift, carry, guide and comfort the stream of traumatised and terrified civilians trying to get away from the foreign troops.

Pictures for Alex Crawford Piece/blog - 
Irpin evacuations
Picture CAPTION - All the men fleeing were being stopped and searched under the part of the bridge still standing. Their documents were being examined and if they had cases, the soldiers went through them. They're acutely aware and fearful of Russian saboteurs trying to sneak into the capital alongside the terrified civilians

Credit:  Chris Cunningham
All the men fleeing were being stopped and searched. Their documents were being examined and if they had cases, the soldiers went through them. Pic: Chris Cunningham

One woman and her sister who’d fled with three young children between them and their 85-year-old mother told us of horrifying days where they were surrounded by gunfire and were weighing up whether it was more dangerous to stay or leave.

“There was shooting everywhere,” she told us.

“We didn’t see anything but we heard it all. And in the street, there were killed people. Near my house, the woman next door was killed yesterday.”

Pictures for ALex Crawford Piece/blog - 
Irpin evacuations
Picture shows damaged buildings
Credit:  Chris Cunningham
Irpin’s damaged buildings. Pic: Chris Cunningham

We saw rows and rows of vehicles which had been left just ahead of the devastated bridge into the capital.

The Ukrainians say they bombed the main route into Kyiv in an attempt to slow the advance of the Russian troops.

We saw mines on the snowy pavement on standby, ready to be laid along the main capital road. And we saw lines of Ukrainian volunteer fighters and soldiers heading into the town to try to hold back the Russian advance.

Pictures for Alex Crawford Piece/blog - 
Irpin evacuations
Picture : We saw utterly heartbreaking scenes as elderly women trembled, shocked children cried and newborn babies were helped over wooden planks covering the gushing waters of the Irpin river.
Credit:  Chris Cunningham
Pic: Chris Cunningham

With the booming pound of mortars as a backdrop, some of the town’s most vulnerable people tried to balance on wobbly wooden pallets acting as a pathway over the gushing and icy waters of the Irpin River. They were brought over any which way was possible – in shopping trolleys, in wheelbarrows, carried on the backs of fitter relatives.

A remarkable act

One woman was weeping as she walked up the muddy banks of the river. “Smile,” her partner said. He wanted her to be brave in front of our cameras.

Family after family told us they were left with no means of carrying on after being under siege for days.

“We had no light, no water, no anything…and we can’t live in our houses right now,” one young woman told us.

And in a remarkable act of kindness, astonishing given what these people are going through, we were presented with a flower.

“It’s for international women’s day,” we were told.

Hundreds of vehicles have just been abandoned across the town and wider Ukraine. Pic: Chris Cunningham

Another woman gripped my hand as she tried to reassure us: “Everything is ok. Everything will be good,” she kept repeating. “Trust me. We will survive. We will escape. Everything will be good….trust us. Don’t be sad or negative,” she goes on.

“Hold on. Protect yourself and take care of yourself.”

Quite incredible.

:: Alex Crawford’s team in Ukraine are camera operator Jake Britton and producers Chris Cunningham and Jake Jacobs.


You May Also Like


The controversial Russian businessman Viktor Baturin, well-known for his years-long counterstanding with his wealthy sister Elena, widow of Moscow ex-mayor Yuri Luzhkov, is likely...

United Kingdom

Film director Ridley Scott has recalled the death of actor Oliver Reed while making the Oscar winning blockbuster Gladiator. Scott said hard-drinking Reed “just...

United Kingdom

The Watneys Party Seven is making a comeback. The ubiquitous 70s beer was a bland fizzing bitter ridiculed by many. The drink’s insipidness helped...

European Union

On April 9, 2022 Dimash Qudaibergen’s first solo concert in Germany took place in Düsseldorf. The colossal energy and the atmosphere of unity did...