Moldova calls for help amid influx of Ukrainian refugees

Social worker Celiana coordinates the volunteers who sort the donations coming in from all over Modalvie per tonne. Food, clothing, here a mountain of packets of diapers, there columns of cans… The exhibition center of Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, was transformed into a reception center for refugees from Ukraine on Monday 7 March.

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The country of 2.6 million people saw an influx of nearly 250,000 people in ten days, of whom 130,000 remained in the country. Most are Ukrainians. On Sunday, March 6, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia was preparing to bomb Odessa. The population therefore tries by all means to flee the port city, a strategic point on the shores of the Black Sea. And the cosmopolitan city of nearly a million inhabitants is just a two-hour drive from the Moldovan border.

Volunteers sort the donations coming in from all over Moldova at the Chisinau Exhibition Center, transformed into a refugee reception center, on March 6, 2022. On the right, Celiana, who coordinates the volunteers' activities.  (SANDRINE ETOA-ANDEGUE / RADIO FRANCE)

Celiana assists refugees in their administrative procedures. “The capacity of each of these two rooms is 215 people. In the past two days there were more than 500. We are overwhelmed, but we are making sure we find a place to sleep for everyone”she explains.

Galina, a grandmother from Odessa, fled Ukraine with one of her daughters and fled to Moldova on March 6, 2022.  (SANDRINE ETOA-ANDEGUE / RADIO FRANCE)

Too exhausted to wait in line, Galina, a green scarf on her head, waits in a chair. She fled Odessa three days ago. “I am devastated. In a panic my family has split up. One of my daughters and my four cousins ​​are here, the others have stayed there. I have no news, no money. I am lost.” This grandmother, her daughter-in-law and the granddaughter also left a village near Odessa. “There were horrific bombings”she explains. My daughter asks me if the missiles will kill her father and grandfather who stayed in Ukraine.”

Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe. She asked for accelerated integration into the European Union to cope. It needs international help to receive all these refugees, warns Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu. “Of course we spend a lot of money on refugees and we make sure that they receive a dignified welcome. But we need support to maintain stability and public order on our territory.calls the minister. We are approaching our limits.”

“We are Ukraine’s most vulnerable neighbor. We are not in NATO, we are not in the European Union. We are not a prosperous or rich country. We expect the worst.”

Nicu Popescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs

at franceinfo

“War is changing, the conflict zone is changing and the refugee flow will increase.” anticipates Nicu Popescu. Could Moldova be the next target? †We can’t predict how things will evolve.” Tatiana, a young Moldovan, is convinced that her country is under threat. “Yes, I’m afraid this war is crossing the border. Actually, anything can happen. If you have to leave urgently, the suitcases are ready”she says.

Moldova calls for help with the influx of Ukrainian refugees – report by Sandrine Etoa-Andègue