BUCHAREST, Romania ( Associated Press) – Jill Biden heard heartbreaking stories on Saturday from Ukrainian women and children who fled Russia’s war and found safe haven across the border in Romania, and the US First Lady who rushed to the frontline of humanitarian aid. He praised the Romanian government and relief organisations. They are providing aid to refugees.
At a Romanian public school hosting refugee students, Biden oversaw relief efforts to aid some of the 900,000 Ukrainians who have fled Romania since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Most of those Ukrainians have emigrated to other countries, but many – mainly women and children – remain as the rage of the fighting.
‘We stand with you,’ Biden told the mothers of some of the students after attending classes where children ages 5 to 15 attend school.
Earlier, Biden received a briefing at the US Embassy on relief efforts. His visit to Eastern Europe comes at a time when President Joe Biden is pressing Congress to pass an additional $33 billion in security and economic aid for Ukraine.
Jill Biden called the show of solidarity “amazing” but also “just the beginning”. She said it was inspiring for the Romanians to “welcome all these refugees to their homes and give them food and clothing and shelter and give them their hearts.”
But he also cautioned that the US and its allies need to do more to aid Ukraine.
“We’re all hopeful, okay,” she told reporters. “We put on makeup every morning and think ‘this has to end’ but it still goes on.”
About 7,000 Ukrainians cross the border and arrive in Romania daily, said Pablo Zapata, the Romanian representative of the UN refugee agency.
The United Nations and other agencies and the Romanian government are providing a range of services to refugees, including food, shelter, education, health and mental health care, and counseling, among other services.
Biden specifically asked about the provision of mental health services and whether summer school was available to help refugee students hold on to their education.
The first lady is on the second day of a four-day visit to Romania and Slovakia designed to show US support for Ukrainian refugees. Slovakia also shares a border with Ukraine. Biden was supposed to spend Mother’s Day on Sunday, met with refugees and visited a border village.
Read more: Jill Biden to travel to Eastern Europe for Mother’s Day meeting with Ukrainian refugees
Biden met Romanian First Lady Carmen Iohannes over lunch at her private residence. Iohannis, who accompanied Biden during the school trip, kept her job as an English teacher until her husband took over as Biden taught her at Northern Virginia Community College.
On his visit to the public school, Biden accompanied a young Ukrainian girl, saying through a translator, “I want to go back to my father.” Biden later told reporters that the girl’s words were “heartbreaking.”
In moments, Biden appeared sad as he listened to the stories of mothers who told him about their own difficult decisions to flee their homeland.
Svitlana Golyak told Biden that her young daughter had difficulty adapting in the early days of the war, but now seems to be taking a turn after arriving in Romania from Kharkiv, Ukraine.
“I think mothers will do anything for their children,” Biden told Golyak and other moms, adding that they were “amazingly strong and resilient.”