Europe struggles to meet the growing needs of millions of Ukrainians on the run
More than 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine’s war abroad, United Nations data showed on Tuesday, leaving Eastern Europe scrambling to provide them with care, schools and jobs even then that the daily number of people crossing borders decreases.
The millions of people who have left Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion have traveled on foot, by train, by bus or by car to neighboring countries such as Poland and Romania before traveling through Europe . Most, however, did not. As fewer people have crossed borders over the past week, the scale of the task of providing accommodation for those seeking safety in the European Union is becoming increasingly apparent, especially in Eastern Europe and central.
Poland, home to the region’s largest Ukrainian diaspora even before the war, has taken in more than 2.1 million people and while some are considering moving elsewhere, the influx has left public services struggling to cope . “The number of children of refugees from Ukraine in Polish schools is growing by around 10,000 a day,” Education Minister Przemyslaw Czarnek told state radio, saying 85,000 children were enrolled in schools Polish.
Czarnek said authorities are organizing basic Polish lessons for Ukrainian teachers so they can be employed in local schools and give preparatory lessons to Ukrainian children before entering the school system. With conscription-age men forced to stay in Ukraine, the exodus consists mainly of women and children, many of whom wish to stay in countries close to Ukraine to be closer to their relatives back home.
In a video posted to Twitter, Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski said 10,000 Ukrainian students had enrolled in schools in Warsaw and a variety of options, including online Ukrainian courses, were needed to avoid a collapse. of the city’s education system. “We will be flexible, we will act, because we want all these young people who are in Warsaw to be able to study, whatever option they choose,” he said.
More than 500,000 people fled to Romania, the second after Poland. The authorities are trying to accurately measure the task at hand while seeking to recruit Ukrainian teachers from among the refugees. Cosmina Simiean Nicolescu, head of Bucharest’s social assistance unit, said 60 Ukrainian children had started classes there this week while many private kindergartens and schools had taken in refugees.
As the number of refugees nears breaking point in parts of Eastern Europe, Nicolescu said refugees are returning to Romania in hopes of finding a less difficult situation. “There are people that we personally put on trains to go west and that we see at the station,” she said.
NEW REALITY The needs of those fleeing bombing and missile attacks across war-torn Ukraine, bearing poignant memories and the pain of separation from their families, go far beyond the education.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has organized psychological first aid training near Poland’s border with Ukraine to help volunteers provide care for the many mentally ill people. Paloma Cuchi, the World Health Organization’s representative in Poland, estimated that 30,000 of those arriving in the country suffered from serious mental problems while half a million needed mental health support due to of the conflict.
“Children have been traveling for days without adequate food, without drinking water, they are tired, worried,” she said. Barbara Slowinska, a school psychologist, said staff at Elementary School Number 26 in Gdynia, Poland, were working hard to overcome language difficulties and help the 60 children who had arrived from Ukraine to integrate.
“We try to talk a lot with the children, as much as we can,” she said, adding that adapting to the new environment was the overriding concern. “They don’t talk about traumatic experiences. Rather, we should calm them down about their current reality in Poland,” Slowinska said.
“That time will come, but it’s yet to come. For now, they have to accept reality.” As border crossings such as Medyka in eastern Poland and Isaccea in northeast Romania have become less crowded, officials fear any escalation in fighting in Ukraine could trigger a new influx.
The head of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, said on Sunday that the war had uprooted 10 million people, most of them still displaced inside Ukraine rather than ‘abroad. Russia denies targeting civilians, describing its actions as a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and its Western allies call this a baseless pretext for the Russian invasion of a democratic country.
(Additional reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz in Warsaw, Emma Thomasson in Berlin, Jan Lopatka and Jason Hovet in Prague; Writing by Niklas Pollard, editing by Ed Osmond)
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