The first thing you do when crossing the border is send a message by Telegram to his brother. Victoria, 32, managed to cross into Moldova and flee the war in Ukraine. A few miles away, rock, 16, is about to embark with his family on a long trip to Georgia. He talks to his friends about instagram How do you plan to get there? “They want to know how we are going to do it because maybe they will do the same thing and leave the country.” Lyubov31 years old, does the same route but in the opposite direction.
He left Georgia to return to Odessa, his hometown. She doesn’t take her cell phone off because friends are waiting on the other side to take her home. “I have to let them know when I’m going to cross,” he said.
The lives of these people will take very different paths, but they have one thing in common. On this trip to or from Ukraine, mobile phones will almost be the protagonists of your story. All three are victims of a war that has forced more than 3 million people to flee their homes. More than 300,000 decided to cross the border from Ukraine to Moldova From there, continue your way to other European cities or stay in the capital, Chisinau.
Viktoria looks on the map where exactly this city is, to which she will go by bus from the Palanca border, one of the busiest at the moment due to its proximity to the Odessa region. Then he responds to his brother to explain to him that they are queuing while waiting for the departure of the bus, which will be the start of a journey of which they do not know how long it will last. Her life won’t be what it used to be, but she says she doesn’t feel alone. “I’m here with my family but I also see how my friends are improving every day. I see it on Instagram, in your stories“, he explains to hypertextual.
instagram it has become a bittersweet social network for Viktoria. For one, you can see firsthand that your contacts and friends are alive. But also how the violence is intensifying in Nikolaev, a town 65 kilometers from the Black Sea. “Videos of the attacks are published because the Russians cannot see what they are doing in my country. Everyone needs to see what’s going on.”
Viktoria rarely leaves her iPhone, quickly typing a message to her sister on Telegram. View stories On Instagram. Read the news streaming to find out if anything has changed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Also check the map to find out how far Bucharest is, the Romanian capital that will become the first stop to another European city.
Viktoria and her family are still unsure exactly where their destination will be, but Pete is clear that the trip to Georgia begins at the border with Moldova, where he has family and will spend time with his mother and siblings. She is also from Nikolaev, the same city as Viktoria. It’s been a week since the bombs and bombings hit this area and just days before Pete saw on the news how they were getting closer and closer. Also for ICT Tac.
Pete tells the outlet that he doesn’t have an account but logs in every day because of the amount of information he finds about the war in Ukraine. The algorithmic user profiling system has done its job well, and almost all the videos that appear are related to the conflict. “It’s almost a live follow-up in some cases,” he says.
ICT Tac Since the beginning of the conflict, it is one of the places where the most videos have been published. First the misinformation alert grew as much of the content was fake. Now, however, some content creators have become something of a co-warster, explaining first-hand what’s going on in their country. As the influencer Ukrainian Kristina Korban, who went from doing makeup tutorials to uploading a video with the sound of bombs playing in the background.
Pete’s life completely changed in a few days. It has already normalized that almost all videos that appear in ICT Tac are linked to the war in Ukraine. Now that’s the only thing that worries him. This was not the case 3 weeks ago, just before the start of the Russian offensive. “I couldn’t believe the first videos. Because it was unexpected. He continues: “Everything we share shows what we live. And that will make us stronger. This is the story of our country, and we will fight for our freedom.
Liubov’s cell phone is considerably older than Viktoria and Pete’s. Unlike the thousands of refugees who cross the Palanca border every day, she will be traveling in the opposite direction. He returns to his hometown, Odessa. While parts of the region and the outskirts of the city have already been attacked, the center remains calm. Lyubov hopes it will continue like this. It does not separate from the mobile and sends almost continuous updates to pending friends on the Ukrainian side. He has traveled a long way and is very close to home.
Stay connected with Ukraine, no matter what
Refugees crossing into Moldova are taken to a reception area, where they are assigned a seat on a bus depending on their destination. There, volunteers have built tents to provide support. They give them food, hot drinks and even psychological support. In this area an electrical system has also been activated and caps. Mainly, to recharge the mobile. Action Against Hunger, the NGO that brought us here, took care of installing the sockets.
Janire Zulaika, coordinator of Action Against Hunger’s emergency team, explains to hypertextual that the installation of the plugs was a priority since they are in the field. “Refugees arrive with the uncertainty of where to go or what to do. Mobile is a connection with their friends and family from different parts and maintaining that contact over the phone gives them peace of mind in the midst of uncertainty,” he stresses.
On the other hand, a telephone operator was distribution of sim cards with network and internet for those crossing the border. Some can still use their Ukrainian cards but fear that at some point they will no longer work and communication will be cut off.
Having a SIM card, in this case from Moldova, gives them the security that they will be operational and connected at all times.
Dasha can still use her Ukrainian mobile line. This 23-year-old girl came from Odessa, but not as a refugee. His city has not yet been attacked, but he has decided to come to Chisinau to help Ukrainians arriving in one of the many hotels in the Moldovan capital that offer food and accommodation.
She mainly uses Telegram because apart from talking through this messaging app with her family and friends, she also checks the news channel. He has Instagram, but he barely enters it because at the moment, he laments, “everything is war”.
Dasha counts for hypertextual that at the beginning of the conflict he was watching videos on ICT Tac, but he can’t. “The war is on all the networks and I see people suffering, people who had to leave their families and their country. After a long day helping refugees here, I don’t want to see more people suffer on Instagram.”
Every night, before going to sleep, open Youtube and watch the contest Chef which aired a few years ago in Ukraine. “I see how they cook chicken and potatoes and I think it’s very nice. There is no war there; this program was recorded in kyiv and now they couldn’t have done it. I watch the program and I think: what a good time, when no one thought there would be a war.
Ludmila is 65, Ella is 52. They stay at the hotel where Dasha helps the refugees. The only platform they use is Telegram and are part of a channel that warns when there is an anti-aircraft alarm in their home locations.
She is from Kharkov, Ludmila from Dnipro, two of the places affected by the war in Ukraine. “We can know when there is an alarm and when it ends. We immediately spoke with our families to find out if they are in the shelter and have been able to protect themselves. We are in a safe place but our families are not”, they explain to this media.
Unlike Dasha, these two women constantly watch the various Telegram channels where there are videos and photos of the latest attacks in the country. When images of their cities come out, they recognize the streets that are under attack. It’s a way to get an idea of how far the destruction of their homes has come.
“We are scared but we want to see everything. Our phones are the most important thing we have here. It is the only thing that connects us to our families and to our country at war.