It’s every family’s nightmare. In the white heat of war you are separated and have no idea if your dearest ones are dead or alive.
Back in March, when Russian invaders were at the gates of Kyiv, Levon*, 15, and his family, like millions of others, fled the chaos. But lack of transport meant Levon went on one bus and his parents on another.
Levon and his family were on a second migration journey, having fled the conflict in Armenia in 2020. The family agreed to meet in Armenia, but the fastest way out of Ukraine was via Poland.
“It was a long and exhausting trip”, Levon remembers. “I was scared and worried about my parents. I couldn’t even call or text them because my phone didn’t work outside of Ukraine”.
To add to his plight, on arrival in Warsaw he mistakenly boarded a bus that took him to the Netherlands, where he was placed under guardianship of the state and stayed with a foster family.
Meanwhile, his parents also took a bus to Poland and continued their journey to Armenia. They endured three weeks of agony before Levon managed to make contact, and then bureaucracy and paperwork meant that it was another eight weeks until their emotional reunion.
IOM Armenia teamed up with colleagues in the Netherlands to make transport available to bring the boy to his country of origin by air.
Levon and his family are planning to stay in Armenia and to start their own car repair business with IOM’s support. Levon is back in school, making new friends, and is happy to be with his family again.
“I felt very lonely not seeing my family. It is a great joy for me to see my mum and dad again”, he said.
Holding her son tight Levon’s mother said “we are thankful for the chance that brought us all together after we were separated. All we need is a peaceful sky over us now.”
*Names changed to protect identities