Tens of thousands of refugees have fled to Moldova in a desperate attempt to avoid the fighting in Ukraine. By March 4 over 165,000 people had entered the small East European nation that sits between Romania and Ukraine. Some 70,000 stayed in Moldova, with 95,000 moving on to other countries. These numbers are climbing. In a poor country that already faces many difficulties, the sudden influx of so many people is proving to be a major challenge. FSCI partners, Beginning of Life (BoL), have been engaged by the Moldovan government to assist refugees and provide urgent help to those seeking a safe place to stay.
A growing crisis
Most of the refugee placement centres are full, as are most of the churches. Businesses, community groups and individuals are also actively engaged in responding to the crisis. Military actions in the South and East of Ukraine have intensified during recent days, fuelling the movement of refugees. The majority of the refugees are women, children and elderly. Husbands, fathers and brothers are staying behind to fight. The majority of refugees are lacking basic necessities, with many having only the clothes they are wearing and few items in bags packed in a hurry as they fled their homes. Many people have problems with travel documents and so are not allowed to pass into Romania. Families are walking many miles to access border crossings, through the snow and rain of winter. Along with that some people need counselling, having been deeply traumatised by their experience.
Beginning of Life’s 27 staff and 50+ volunteers have focused their attention on the needs of the refugees and are working in three different refuges. BoL is providing activities for children and young people, counselling, help with meals and is liaising with local churches to provide accommodation for families. Over 170 people are being placed daily by the BoL team, and the number is growing. In addition, BoL is assisting with transport needs from the border with Ukraine and supplying equipment and supplies so that teams can distribute snacks and hot drinks to refugees waiting at the border.
The need for accommodation is now acute. Serghei Mihailov, BoL’s Director of Operations, told us “The number of people needing help is huge, yesterday a new placement centre with 700 beds was opened, and in an hour it was full. There is a deficit of accommodations”.
Families that have offered their homes for accommodation for refugees along with the small placement centres being hurriedly set up in churches and private facilities are being provided with extra items for hosting (bed linen, duvet, mattress and pillows) and personal hygiene, medications and food.
Your help is needed
Moldova is not a rich country. It can ill afford such a crisis, and as the number of people needing help grows, resources are becoming stretched. If you would like to support the relief work now being carried out by Beginning of Life, you can make a Gift Aid-able donation via the link below. Please help if you are able.