Light in times of darkness, as Gibraltar supports Ukraine
Last night the Moorish Castle was lit in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, but as that light shone Larisa Melechenko, a Ukrainian in Gibraltar, has hardly slept in days.
She lays awake thinking of her mother, her cousin and his teenage daughters, and her friends living in Ukraine during this conflict.
Her mother is hiding in a small town Irshans’k, frightened to make the journey across Ukraine to Poland as she has heard Russian troops are also targeting civilians.
Her cousin and his two daughters are hunkered down in a subway in Kyiv.
Mrs Melechenko is able to talk to her family daily, but as the days pass the concern grows.
Although her cousin will need to stay in Kyiv, Mrs Melechenko hopes she can get both girls safely to Gibraltar.
But the journey is fraught with difficulty, first getting those girls out of the subway, entrusting someone to take them to Poland and then arriving there safely.
Gibraltar yesterday implemented a visa waiver for Ukrainian nationals for those with a Schengen Visas, and Mrs Melechenko hopes the girls will be welcomed here.
In a sign of solidarity, the Moorish Castle was lit in blue and yellow, the national colours of Ukraine, as from Monday evening.
The Gibraltar Government thanked GHITA for relinquishing their allocation during Hearing Loss Awareness week in support of this mark of Gibraltar’s solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
“The Moorish Castle, in many ways a symbol of Gibraltar, will be lit in blue and yellow [from Monday night] as a mark of solidarity with the people of Ukraine at this dreadful time,” The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said.
“Russia’s deplorable attack on Ukraine has also affected Gibraltarians in a number of ways: some live there whilst others have family, friends and colleagues in Ukraine.”
“This gesture is also a beacon of hope on the day when peace talks between Ukraine and Russia have begun, and represents Gibraltar’s commitment to the inalienable principle of self-determination.”
As part of the Governments continued response to the conflict, it has closed Gibraltar’s airspace to Russian aircrafts.
“No aircraft owned, chartered or operated by a person connected with Russia are permitted to land at Gibraltar’s airport,” a Government spokesman said.
“This is in accordance with actions being taken by the United Kingdom and European Union following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”
This restriction, however, does not apply to any aircraft flying in accordance with the permission of the Minister for Civil Aviation, the Government said.