‘I want the world to know’: Diary of 12-year-old Ukrainian refugee in Dublin to become a book

In You Don’t Know What War Is, Yeva Skalietska chronicles her escape with her grandmother from Kharkiv and their long journey to Ireland

A 12-year-old Ukrainian girl’s account of her journey with her grandmother from the war-torn city of Kharkiv to eventual safety in Dublin is to be turned into a book.

In You Don’t Know What War Is: The Diary of a Young Girl from Ukraine, to be published in October, Yeva Skalietska first chronicles rushing to take shelter from missile attacks in a dusty, crowded basement. When the situation deteriorates, they head for a friend’s house elsewhere in the city, in northeastern Ukraine, but the conflict rages all around, and Yeva struggles to stay calm amid the sound of explosions.

Eventually the pair decide to travel to western Ukraine—where, in a makeshift shelter in a school hall, Yeva tells UK reporters she is writing a diary. After featuring her in several news articles, they help Yeva and her grandmother Iryna across the border into Hungary and, ultimately — because several countries refuse them entry — to Dublin, where they are welcomed and cared for by their secondary-teacher hosts, Catherine Flanagan and Gary Abrahamian, from Glasnevin.

“Everyone knows what the word ‘war’ means, but practically no one knows what this word really represents,” Yeva said in a statement released on Wednesday. “I want the world to know what we have experienced.”


The book is being published in Ireland and the UK by Bloomsbury and in the United States by Union Square, which says it will donate a portion of the proceeds to Ukraine refugee organisations. — With reporting from Associated Press