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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Ukrainian refugees volunteer with countrymen

BUCHAREST ( Associated Press) — Elena Trofimchuk fled Ukraine for Romania more than a month ago. She now sees the Bucharest North Railway Station as a second home.

She doesn’t live there, but it is where she spends most of the day welcoming other Ukrainian refugees escaping the war against Russia and helping them find tickets and accommodation.

The 26-year-old said keeping busy keeps her mind off the bombing of her hometown of Odessa, where many of her friends remain.

“If you sit and do nothing, you can go crazy because you are always looking for news. It is very hard. So here I can help people buy tickets and find accommodation. I even help the Romanians in the kitchen,” said Trofimchuk.

Before the war, she worked as a photographer.

Trofimchuk is just one of many Ukrainian volunteers who work at the station.

Ukrainian volunteer Vitalii Ivanchuk flew in from Sri Lanka, where he lived with his Ukrainian girlfriend, to help refugees arriving in Romania.

The 29-year-old IT developer said many Ukrainians have difficulty communicating with Romanians, and volunteers who speak Ukrainian and English are in high demand.

His girlfriend, Anastasiia Haiduk, quit her investment job shortly after the war started and decided to help out at the station until she can join her family in Ukraine.

The Romanian government is giving free train tickets to Ukrainian refugees arriving in Romania that they can use to travel to Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia and Bulgaria.

Trofimchuk said she was touched by the warm welcome and the Romanians’ show of solidarity with Ukraine.

“Every Romanian wants to help. They are very friendly. And I was surprised by this. I am very happy that everyone wants to help,” said Trofimchuk.

Almost 5.5 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war on February 24, according to the UN.

More than 3 million have fled to Poland, some 817,000 to Romania and around 520,000 have crossed into Hungary, according to the UNHCR.

Volunteers at the station in Bucharest say more people are now arriving from Odessa following Russian missile attacks on the southern Ukrainian port city on the Black Sea.

World Nation News Desk
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