Press Release

Migrant chef, migrant hero dies in Ukraine

04 August 2022

There are big heroes, who wish to stay invisible.

There are dedicated professionals, who deliver professionally.

There are brave humans, who burn themselves like a candle trying to bring some light into the midst of a night, to share some love and care.

And there are migrants, who are invisible heroes and brave humans, whose story needs to be told.

Sardor Hakimov (36), a professional cook, is one of them. He and his team of volunteers were preparing yet another pot of free Uzbek pilaf for displaced Ukrainians in the city of Chuhuiv in Eastern Ukraine, when rocket-shelling killed him last week.

Caption: Sardor Hakimov who was killed in Eastern Ukraine as he distributed Uzbek pilaf to displaced people

Sardor, originally from the Farghona Valley of Uzbekistan, came to Ukraine as a migrant in 2000 when he was just 15. He dedicated himself to cooking and his traditional Uzbek pilaf became wildly popular. He opened his first restaurant  in Sievierodonetsk and another in Chuhuiv.

After the Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February, Sardor sent his spouse and children to his native town in Uzbekistan, but stayed himself to continue cooking and serving the people, whom he knew for over 20 years. He brought together 15 volunteers and cooked pilaf to feed the displaced. His body was found under the rubble of the Palace of Culture, when he had set up the feeding station. 

“Everyone in Chuhuiv knew him. Till the very last moment, the people in Chuhuiv had hoped that Sardor Hakimov would survive. He used to smile always, he was a very positive person”, said an official in Kharkiv, paying tribute.

His friends tell heart-touching stories of Sardor who enjoyed being able to help his community. 

Sardor fell as a victim of the brutal war, but his pilaf, and the meaning behind it, remains, warming hearts and bringing hope for a brighter future.

His spouse and small kids must be proud of their hero husband, hero father.

Rest in peace, Sardor.

Migrant chef, migrant hero dies in Ukraine

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IOM
International Organization for Migration

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