Saturday, March 25, 2023

Hope, horror, more than 6 million as Ukrainian war refugees

Cluj-Napoca, Romania ( Associated Press) – Pregnant mother Galina Kubiak says she misses her home in Ukraine, but has fallen in love with neighboring Romania, where she leaves for her two young children to escape the war. ran away with

“Sometimes we go to the store, and they find out we’re Ukrainians and people give kids milk or cookies, or sometimes they just hug,” said the 35-year-old, who now lives in the northern city of Cluj in Romania. Lives in Napoca. Said Friday. “I am very surprised by the kindness of people (by) in a good way.”

More than 6 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, the UN refugee agency announced on Thursday. Russia’s war – which it insists on calling a “special military operation” – has prompted one of the worst humanitarian crises in Europe since World War II.

Poland has absorbed most of the refugees – more than 3.2 million – while more than 900,000 went to Romania. Many have fled to neighboring countries such as Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova.

Like many of the millions of refugees, mostly women and children, who have fled the war, Kubiak’s journey so far has been a mixture of hope and fear. His family is from a village just a few kilometers from Buka outside Kyiv, now a notorious site of alleged war crimes by the Russian military.

“My brother was helping people with burials,” she told the Associated Press. “People were dead in the streets and people were just taking them and digging holes in the ground and burying people – it’s hard to see, it’s hard to see.”

Romanian member of the European Parliament Vlad Gheorghe, who runs a Facebook group in Romania called United for Ukraine, which pools resources for refugees, says the needs of refugees have changed since the start of the crisis. . They now need permanent solutions for employment, schooling and healthcare.

“We in the EU were not prepared for this type of crisis – and we should have been,” he told the Associated Press in an email on Friday. “In addition, there is an ongoing need for financial support and donations for food, hygiene products (and) clothing.”

“The refugee crisis is not over yet, even if peace comes,” he said, adding that many refugees would not have a home to return because of the devastation of the war, but that he has been impressed by the continued level of support. From civil society during the entire crisis.

However, others on the front lines of refugee support say the situation is getting dire.

Laura Mihalyi, who leads the Youth for Mission, a Christian NGO that provides housing and food for Ukrainian refugees – including Kubiak – in Cluj-Napoca, said: “We love what we do, but are apparently feeling tired. has been.”

“Three weeks ago we learned that one of the families belonged to Buka, their son-in-law was killed and buried in a big hole in the city,” she said. “I think psychological fatigue is affecting us more than physical.”

Uliana Kaliuzna, an information technology worker from the Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv, says she considers herself lucky to be able to continue her work online in Cluj-Napoca, and pay taxes at home “to support my country”. continues to do.

Kaliyuzna rents her flat from the salary she still draws.

“Paying for everything is not easy,” she said. “But volunteer centers are very helpful with food and clothing – sometimes we go to them and get help.”

The UNHCR also said on Thursday that more than 1.6 million refugees had returned to Ukraine either permanently or temporarily. But it added that cross-border activities may not indicate a “sustainable” return.

Kubiak, who is heavily pregnant, insists that she wants to return home when the war ends and be reunited with her loved ones.

“We all have a dream that we can all come back and live in peace and help rebuild,” she says, her voice trembling with emotion, “and renewing our country.”


Gramesque reported from Cluj-Napoca, Romania; McGrath reported from Sighisoara, Romania and Jamie Keaton from Berlin, Germany.


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