Moldova and Romania are two of the most affected countries by the war in Ukraine as hosts of a large number of refugees. At the moment, there are around 380,000 Ukrainians that chose Moldova as their first country to go to, with around 550,000 Ukrainians opting to find refuge in Romania.
“It was a big challenge for our society, for our government, and also for our organisation. Since 25 February, our volunteers have been involved in helping the refugees at the borders of Palanca and Tudora, which are most popular crossing points for the refugees from Odessa, Nikolaev, and Kherson,” said Dumitru Roibu, YMCA Moldova President.
After 20 days of the conflict, Moldova has a plus of 5% of the population and it is hard to provide effective, timely and well-organised support actions – but the government, local authorities and NGOs are doing their best.
What YMCA Moldova is doing for refugees?
- Free transportation to Chisinau or Border with Romania with our cars for more than 60 people (including from YMCA Ukraine)
- Free accommodation at YMCA Youth Centre in Trebujeni (More than 50 people until today)
- Free accommodation in the houses of our volunteers and board members (30 people until today)
- Meal for free for those who arrive at the border and those who are accommodated (food distributed together with other local NGOs for more than 1000 people)
- Free fuel for refugees who are going to other European countries (14 cars in total)
- Packs with necessary items like water, food, towels, pampers, etc. (for 1,500 people).
- Logistical and informational support (more than 300 people aided to find transportation, accommodation, support to buy plane tickets, exchange money, etc.)
- During this period, YMCA Moldova established strong contact with state institutions and NGOs that work with refugees from Ukraine and had systemized its activities by knowing the time of departure and places of the buses that help refugees to travel to Romania from the Moldavian border.
When it comes to Romania, the headquarters of the National YMCA and two local associations are located in the North West, in Baia Mare city and surroundings – 60 km from the Ukrainian border.
The war has affected so many lives. There are many young people who are now seeking shelter and a place to call home. The team is responsible for registration and provision of safe places to rest, ensuring a passage through the country and onwards to other parts of Europe, as well as basic psychosocial support for all those in need.
Since the war started, YMCA Romania team has been present at the border crossing – offering hot meals and refreshments to all the volunteers working on-site, ensuring regular services and assistance to all those coming from Ukraine. “It was tedious work out there, but they operate with passion and dedication. The volunteers are managing through exceptional circumstances, hearing heartbreaking stories of what is happening across the border,” said Alina Pop, YMCA National General Secretary.
Throughout these realities, YMCA Romania continues to provide support and guidance, especially for mothers and children from Ukraine, offering them a safe place and emotional support.
YMCA staff and volunteers are operating in 3 areas:
- At the border providing first-line support and assistance,
- Facilitating YMCA people and friends to safely arrive in Romania and cross further to the EU,
- Providing necessary items in Ukraine and to Ukrainians who are hosted in the region.
“We are very appreciative of all the support and now, more than ever we need to also start thinking about second-line services for those who will stay for a longer period in Romania: integration services – development of language, abilities, job offers, emotional support, youth programs, etc. Now we are focused only on the first line, and probably starting in April we need to design our intervention for those programs. We need to adapt to our capacity, be realistic and monitor the situation very closely.” said Alina.
Hundreds of people with animals arrive at the border crossing between Romania and Ukraine every day. We welcome the initiative of the YMCA Baia Mare and their partners who have launched a campaign to help people’s best friends. Over 150 kg of food were purchased and transported to various locations in Maramures County.
Together, a small team of dedicated people is changing the lives of so many others facing the consequences of a horrific war. The acts of kindness and generosity are reflected in the collective support of all the YMCAs around the world. In close collaboration, the two YMCAs from Romania and Moldova are defying all the challenges, bringing the light of hope to so many.
At the end of February, thanks to the intervention of YMCA Europe, YMCA Moldova got a grant of 5,000 EUR through the project “Relief Assistance for Ukrainian Refugees on the Border”. It helped the YMCA here to reinforce and to achieve better results in working with the refugees.
We stand with our brave young people at YMCA Moldova and YMCA Romania, acknowledging their extraordinary effort and dedication. Remember that our vision will be echoed in our acts, and our acts will bring about change. Please help by making a donation. Every amount is welcome.