Romania braced for larger wave of Ukrainian refugees
Ukrainian civilians have purportedly been driving across the Romanian border to sleep in safety before returning home the next day.
Vanessa Maynard of Christian Aid said people are reportedly sleeping in Romanian community centres near the border. She said the temporary refugees were normally women and children who do not want to abandon their menfolk.
Ukrainian males aged 18 to 60 are not allowed to leave the country.
Only Poland has accepted more Ukrainian refugees than Romania.
Most Ukrainians have entered Romania as tourists, avoiding the long queues at other borders where they are required to register as displaced.
“We have to adapt to their needs, if they want to go back we have to support them. We’re providing transport and things like that,” Maynard told Britain’s i.
Save the Children representatives along the Romanian border have also reported that families are returning to Ukraine for short periods.
The more relaxed entry policy in Romania might stifle attempts to receive compensation from the European Union for its humanitarian assistance.
Many Ukrainians are returning home, leading some refugee centres in Moldova to close.
“I think the movement back is increasing,” Maynard said. “People are trying to have a sense of, maybe it is safe to go back now, maybe things are changing.”
But the Romanian authorities believe that the worst may be yet to come.
“We are still preparing for a larger wave to come,” Madalina Turza, a prime ministerial aide. “The information coming both from the media and institutional channels is that Ukraine is still under attack and that Putin is pushing very hard to get Odesa. And Odesa is very close to Romania.”
The attractive Black Sea port has around 1 million residents.
Turza, who is coordinating Romania’s humanitarian assistance efforts, said the border has been kept open to Ukrainian civilians for humanitarian reasons.
“We felt that it’s kind of inhuman to keep them with children in their arms, with everything going crazy, to keep them at the border,” she said.
Romania also experienced communist rule and Russian occupation so the plight of Ukrainians is not alien and sympathy not difficult to muster, Turza told the media.
Save the Children says Romania is bracing for a second wave of refugees as increased fighting is expected in southern Ukraine.
More than 2,000 are estimated to be crossing the border per day with ferries running constantly.
More than 740,000 Ukrainians have crossed the Romanian border with many coming from under-fire cities like Mykolaiv, Kherson and Mariupol.
Romania fears Odesa will be targeted. Picture credit: YouTube