In just a few days, the violence in Ukraine has displaced more than one million people. Many have chosen to leave for Poland, but faced with the massive arrival of refugees, the borders are saturated. Many have therefore decided to turn south to find refuge in Romania.
The international aid organisation CARE and its Romanian partner, the child protection organisation SERA, are on the ground at the Isaccea border crossing preparing to provide assistance.
Currently, hundreds of people are crossing the border every day, but with the deteriorating situation and overcrowding at the Polish borders, local authorities estimate daily arrivals could reach 50,000.
CARE’s Romania Response Team Leader, Valentina Mirza, is in Isaccea.
“About 2,000 people are arriving here every day after crossing the Danube River by boat. The temperatures are freezing and many children have no warm clothes or blankets to protect themselves. People also need warm and nutritious food for babies,” Ms Mirza said.
“The need is growing by the hour at the border where women, children and the elderly are lining up for miles. Many are exhausted after a long journey in crowded trains, in cars in endless traffic jams or on foot with limited possessions. They have had to wait for long hours or even days at the border in freezing temperatures.”
As of 2 March a reported 140,000 people had crossed into Romania from Ukraine in search of safety and support.
The Romanian authorities are doing their best to ensure that no one is left out in the open, and citizens are showing immense solidarity in providing shelter, hot drinks and assistance to families. But the needs are increasing, and border countries are not prepared to receive refugees.
CARE’s partners will begin training of 200 psychologists in emergency psychosocial support in the border areas where refugees are arriving, to provide assistance to help them overcome the trauma of war and leaving their homes.
CARE and SERA are also supporting local social services and child protection departments set up services on arrival and at transit routes for the most vulnerable children.
SERA Executive Director, Bogdan Simion, said with the number of people using the Isaccea crossing expected to increase, they will start distributing emergency supplies next week.
“Our teams on the ground are working hard to organise the best possible emergency response for refugees crossing the border in the coming days: food distributions, hygiene supplies, mattresses and blankets. The needs are huge, and we need your support to help them.”
Donate to CARE Australia’s Ukraine humanitarian crisis appeal: care.org.au/ukraine
About CARE and partners’ work in the region:
- CARE has been working for 20 years with SERA, a Romanian organisation focused on child protection.
- For now, Romania’s main crossing points are Siret and Sighet in the north of the country (by road) but an increasing number of people are arriving in Isaccea in the east of Romania (by ferry). Our team is currently in Isaccea to evaluate how best to assist.
- CARE is working in Ukraine and other bordering countries with its partner People In Need, which has sent trucks loaded with relief supplies including food, hygiene kits, diapers, sleeping bags and mattresses to Lviv in western Ukraine to be distributed over the coming days. People in Need is also responding on the Slovak border.
- Our teams are also carrying out assessments on the Polish-Ukranian border to see how best to assist.
For media enquiries from Australia, contact Iona Salter on 0413 185 634