A Ukrainian teen theater group stuck in Finland is seeking asylum

A Ukrainian theater group, which included 16 teenagers and three directors, took part in a drama festival when it got stuck in Jyväskylä when began its hostilities against the country.

"It feels like my head is exploding with all the emotions" team leader Svizlana Goncharova said of the situation.

The 32-year-old stressed that the primary was to find a safe place for the young members to live, sleep and eat.

"Let’s cry about this together later, now we have to gather strength and action," he said.

The youngest members of the group are 12 years old and the oldest have just turned 18 years old.

16-year-old member Kopiova was on his way to Jyväskylä from Kharkov, , when he received the first messages of the Russian invasion.

The city has been the target of missiles and reported civilian casualties. All his family members are still alive, but communication is challenging due to poor network connection .

"It’s been really tough, you never know what’s going to happen." Kopiova said and added it, however "it is a great relief that we are here together. We constantly embrace and support each other."

The theater group has received help from volunteers in Jyväskylä.Jarkko Riikonen / General

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Accelerated asylum process to relieve pressure

The theater group is now seeking asylum in Finland.

At the same time, the EU is planning a new directive on the temporary protection of refugees. EU leaders will discuss the issue on Thursday. If adopted, the change would simplify and shorten the asylum procedure from an average of ten months to six months.

This will be particularly useful in the flood of asylum applications expected in the coming months, Head of the Finnish Immigration Service’s Asylum Unit Antti Lehtinen said.

have submitted about 185 applications since the start of the war, none of which have yet progressed to interviews.

"Of course, we will not abandon Ukraine [applications] at the moment. Positive decisions will be taken as long as the conditions for international protection are met," Lehtinen said.

Theater activities during a break

Director Svizlana Goncharova says the future of the club’s theater activities is now uncertain. Most of the more than 100 members have left Kharkov and may not return.

In Goncharova’s mind, the main focus is on her family and the reconstruction of their heavily targeted city.

"Now there is no time or for art. We have to take it one day at a time," he said.

Nevertheless, the young people told that they wanted to put together a play from the experiences they were currently experiencing.

If the action continues, Goncharova said she wants to help children and young people develop their critical skills by teaching them more about history, languages, and laws.

"These children are our future," the team leader added.

Source: The Nordic Page

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