The long and winding road to safety

Date:

The long and winding road to safety

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Saturday, February 04, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • She had travelled 2,000 kilometres over three days with her sick daughter.

  • She is already preparing to travel to Romania, though.

  • Lonnback thinks that the IOM’s help in getting more than 15,000 people to the European Union by bus and plane has stopped a dangerous situation from happening in Moldova, which is already struggling with poverty and social unrest.

  • Approximately 10% of people who fled Ukraine via Moldova have chosen to remain there.

  • Ivan, a five-month-old baby born amid war in Ukraine but conceived in peace, is now safe in Moldova with his mother Ksenia.

The winters in Moldova tucked away in the southeast of Europe, maybe bleak and severe, yet the road from the Ukrainian border winds out over barren, brown hills like a ribbon of hope.

Larysa, from the Ukrainian province of Donetsk, interprets the silent heath as a place of protection. It means a break from the constant bombardment of artillery, the noise of drones and sirens, running for cover, and the darkness, cold, and dirt of battle. Life can resume after the dread has been put aside.

Larysa left the Donetsk region behind when she boarded a bus from the border to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) station outside the little town of Palanca. She had travelled 2,000 kilometres over three days with her sick daughter.

“Mama, are we going to get up tomorrow?”

Like everyone who has just emerged from the agonies of war, her discourse flows in and out. Silences choke with sobs, and torrents follow too-fresh recollections. disbelief at first, followed by relief. She is already preparing to travel to Romania, though.

“I want to apply for a job, find work and housing when I get to Bucharest,” she says. The most crucial factor is that there isn’t any firing, that the area is calm, and that your youngster doesn’t ask, “Mama, will we wake up tomorrow?”

A few dozen people, including Larysa and her kid, have gathered around a tent manned by the IOM and other organizations. There is time for a hot breakfast, a health checkup, to obtain the information required for the upcoming days and weeks, and even a shower before the bus departs for the 10-hour journey to the Romanian capital.

According to Lars Johan Lonnback, the IOM’s Chief of Mission in Moldova, “There was complete mayhem on the border when we first came here in late February, just after the Russian invasion.” We saw right away that, along with food, shelter, medical care, and counseling, transportation was a very important need. Well-meaning volunteers began to show up and offered to take disadvantaged families to Portugal, Norway, or Italy. Keep in mind that these families left their men behind to fight. It was utterly disorganized, making it the ideal setting for human traffickers, who always show up when victims are most helpless.

Bucharest by bus

Lonnback also knew that the influx of thousands of people would strain Moldova’s few resources and make it more likely that society would fall apart. The partners promptly organized a dedicated bus service that relieved congestion along the border, safeguarded the weak, and expanded the scope of the extensive relief effort.

In the same spirit, IOM has been assisting travellers, especially those most in need, such as the elderly, those with disabilities, and those who are bedridden, to travel by plane to countries in the European Union. Lonnback thinks that the IOM’s help in getting more than 15,000 people to the European Union by bus and plane has stopped a dangerous situation from happening in Moldova, which is already struggling with poverty and social unrest.

He said it was important for the international community to keep helping Moldova in any way possible. “We’ve seen how proud and determined the Ukrainian people are, and they don’t want to leave their country.” But it gets harder to live, or even “exist,” as attacks on infrastructure and snowfall get worse. If vast numbers of people were to evacuate Ukraine again, we would be able to scale up our system since it is responsive and adaptable.

Approximately 10% of people who fled Ukraine via Moldova have chosen to remain there. Many of them stayed from border towns, have relatives or friends there, or, like individuals in any war, wish to be near their home country.

Uprooted four generations

In a modest home an hour outside of Chisinau, four generations of women now depend on Svitlana, a 60-year-old real estate agent from Odesa, 40 kilometers from Moldova. She speaks slowly, occasionally mechanically, describing the atrocities she witnessed and heard. While her daughter makes borscht and her grandson draws, her mother calmly reads.

She doesn’t cry, though. Svitlana says she must avoid sadness and refuses to make time for it. She leads the family alone while her husband and son-in-law are fighting on the front lines.

She claims Moldova has graciously welcomed them with humanitarian aid and straightforward friendliness. She and her daughter are learning Romanian to compete in the local employment market and use their skills for themselves and their host country. Even though they are grateful for the assistance, they don’t want to depend on it to get by.

Margo Baars, IOM’s emergency coordinator in Moldova, sums up the organization’s strategy as “sustainability through solidarity.” “We offer livelihood assistance, small business subsidies, training, and support for temporary housing, especially to help people get through this challenging winter. We focus on providing psychological support as one of our key services because people have been through a lot and require more than just material assistance.

Old men also leave Ukraine with their moms, little children, and grandmothers. Yurii, 73 years old, remembers his parents talking about the Second World War, but he never thought he would see so much destruction and death in his own country. “It’s awful,” he declares. “Victims are brought into our facility every day. There are a significant number of victims grieving and suffering.

Ivan, who is five months old and was born in Ukraine during a war even though he was conceived in peace, is now safe in Moldova with his mother, Ksenia. Ksenia had raced through a minefield while she was quite pregnant as cluster bombs were falling. She fell, but she could get up, and Ivan got a birthmark to remind him of the day they both almost died.

“So that I may fully appreciate being a mother, I want this war to end,” says Ksenia. Without Ivan, I would have lost my mind fighting this war. He is the one who made everything more bearable.

Her smile is a ray of sunshine in this dark, gloomy field.

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