Boris Johnson meets Ukrainian children after praising their country’s resilience

The Prime Minister sat in class with Bohdan and Liza, who left Ukraine for south east London.

David Hughes
Monday 23 May 2022 12:56
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Ukrainian refugees Bohdan and Liza, both seven, as they take part in a science lesson during his visit to St Mary Cray Primary Academy, in Orpington, to see how they are delivering tutoring to help children catch up following the pandemic (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Ukrainian refugees Bohdan and Liza, both seven, as they take part in a science lesson during his visit to St Mary Cray Primary Academy, in Orpington, to see how they are delivering tutoring to help children catch up following the pandemic (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Boris Johnson chatted to two Ukrainian schoolchildren after writing to the war-torn nation’s youngsters to praise them for their “strong and dignified” response to Russia’s invasion.

The Prime Minister sat next to seven-year-olds Bohdan and Liza, who have left Ukraine and found refuge in south-east London, during a science class at their primary school.

In his open letter, the Prime Minister commended the children of Ukraine for holding their heads high in the “toughest of times” and reassuring them they are not alone.

The Prime Minister said he was “very sad” to see youngsters absent from the streets and parks of Kyiv when he visited the Ukrainian capital last month, adding: “I cannot imagine how difficult this year must have been for you.”

But he said the children must bear two things in mind, that they should be “immensely proud” and they have “millions” of friends around the world.

Mr Johnson sat next to Bohdan and Liza during his visit to St Mary Cray Primary Academy.

He also joined in with pupils making bunting for the Platinum Jubilee, his half-finished effort appeared to depict one of the Queen’s corgis.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson resolved to “redouble efforts” to provide vital food and humanitarian aid to the Ukrainians, and ensure the country is able to export to the rest of the world.

The Prime Minister told Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in a call on Sunday, that Britons are “1,000%” behind his people, No 10 said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to St Mary Cray Primary Academy (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

In his letter to the Ukrainian children, Mr Johnson wrote: “When your president showed me around Kyiv last month, the absence of children and young people on the streets and in the parks made me feel very sad.

“Since the invasion many of you have been forced to flee your homes.

“You have left behind family, friends, pets, toys and all that is familiar, seeking refuge in underground stations, distant cities, even other countries.

“I cannot imagine how difficult this year must have been for you.”

Mr Johnson said the children should be proud of their country, their parents, their families, their soldiers, and “most of all” themselves.

“Many of you have seen or experienced things no child should have to witness,” he wrote.

“Yet, every day Ukrainian children are teaching all of us what it means to be strong and dignified, to hold your head high in even the toughest of times.

“I can think of no better role model for children and adults everywhere.”

The PM said the children may be separated from their friends at home but they have “millions of others all over the world”, including in the UK.

“We fly Ukrainian flags from our homes, offices, churches, shops and playgrounds, even from my own roof in Downing Street, where the windows are filled with sunflowers drawn by British children,” he wrote.

“Our young people are painting your flag in their classrooms and making blue and yellow bracelets in support of your country.”

He added: “I believe, like your president, that Ukraine is going to win this war.

“I hope with all my heart that, one day soon, you will be free to return to your homes, your schools, your families.

“And whatever happens, however long it takes, we in the UK will never forget you, and will always be proud to call you our friends.”

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