‘I’m doing everything I can’: Why a London black cab is taking refugees over the Ukraine-Poland border

A British-Ukrainian man is using his London black cab to transport refugees fleeing the war with Russia across the border to Poland.

Roman Tymchyshyn said he had driven about 80 people, including pregnant women, disabled elderly people, children and even a nine-month-old baby, across the border.

The 31-year-old has racked up 2,169 miles since he began driving refugees in his black cab on 28 February – about 300 miles a day

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Mr Tymchyshyn has transported disabled elderly people

Mr Tymchyshyn has transported disabled elderly people

They discuss their stories and cry together’

“My employer is very generous and has allowed me one month’s paid leave so I relocated to Ukraine mainly to help people evacuate,” Mr Tymchyshyn told the PA news agency.

“Until they cross the border or reach their final destination the passengers feel frightened but they are sometimes more relaxed when they are gathered together with different families as I form groups of random people.

“They discuss their stories and cry together about the losses or talk about their family members who have been split up.”

Mr Tymchyshyn, who is originally from Lviv in western Ukraine, travelled back to the country with his wife Ulyana Vovk from their home in Portadown, Northern Ireland, after Russia invaded almost two weeks ago.

Roman Tymchyshyn has been using his taxi to evacuate refugees across the Polish border

Mr Tymchyshyn has been using his taxi to evacuate refugees across the Polish border

Cab transports pets, including turtle

The classic car enthusiast said his black cab was “more comfortable and spacious” and allows him to transport disabled people or carry up to six passengers.

He has also transported people’s pets, including a cat, a rabbit, two dogs and a turtle.

Passengers in Roman Tymchyshyn's taxi

Passengers in Mr Tymchyshyn’s taxi

“I am doing everything I can to help… giving blood, looking for supplies, transporting goods through the border and fundraising,” he said.

“When you see things like this happening on your TV screen it’s one thing but when you experience it in person… it’s heart-breaking.

“Often children travel without parents and yesterday we had a case when an 11-year-old boy travelled all his way from Zaporizyzya to Slovakia alone – that’s more than 1,000km I would imagine.

“Very old people are scared of the bombing and airplanes as some of them experienced World War Two… most of them don’t talk but pray while I’m driving for two hours.”

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‘I’ll take up a gun if needed’

Mr Tymchyshyn has launched a fundraiser with his sister Mariya, who lives in north London, to buy two second-hand 4×4 SUVs to evacuate injured civilians from the battlefield.

Their target of £3,000 has nearly been reached and they said any money left over would be spent on other necessary supplies.

Mr Tymchyshyn added that he would be willing to “take up a gun” and fight on the frontline “if needed”.

“Nobody wants to go and war… but I am proud of my country and my people,” he said.

“This fight is very unfair but I am optimistic about the situation.”

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