The refugee crisis caused by the war in Ukraine is challenging host communities that are already vulnerable and weakened due to a lack of resources and high levels of poverty.
This is particularly the case in countries such as Romania and Moldova, where refugees arriving on the territory require a sustained response, which in turn must be complex and comprehensive.
For the director of the NGO World Vision, Javier Ruiz, this is one of the new challenges for organizations on the ground in the face of a “chronification of the conflict”. “A country like Moldova has high levels of poverty (…) and that makes it very difficult for families to keep helping others if we don’t support them,” he warned in statements to Europa Press.
“Since the beginning of the conflict we have launched a multi-country response, which we are adapting as needed, but if the crisis continues we need to be able to adapt and integrate all refugee families with education, health and protection systems , children (…) and this will require the coordinated effort of all actors involved to help them,” he explained.
He specified that if the number of refugees remaining in Moldova reached 200,000, “we would be talking about a 10 percent increase in population in a country that already has few resources”.
Ruiz, who is in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, has assured that the role of governments and the international community is “fundamental”. “On the one hand, this is key for coordination between UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and all actors involved in the response, and on the other hand, governments encourage the formation of alliances,” he said. .
In this sense, he pointed out that although the Romanian Romexpo stadium has been ceded by the government to accommodate refugees from Ukraine, it is the NGOs that continue to provide food, hygiene and health kits and the internet, among other things.
For this reason, he stressed the importance of the international community “increasing its dialogue and peace-building efforts, respecting international law, keeping borders open and creating additional budgets” to deal with the crisis.
“No civilian should be the target of attacks and they must be protected,” he stressed, before declaring that budgets should be “additional” because “under no circumstances should they come from funds earmarked for already existing crises and conflicts are provided in the world.”
Currently, the possibility of refugee families attempting to return to their country is “very real,” he explained, as there is a “fundamental desire to return to their homes and reunite with their families as soon as possible.”
“We have already established that there are many families who, if they see the slightest possibility of returning, will try to return. This risk is very real,” he lamented, while recalling that half of the refugees are children who are suffering “devastating consequences” “as a result of this conflict.
Ruiz stressed that “there are hundreds of dead children”, while another 5.7 million “have interrupted their education and suffered psychological damage that will accompany them throughout their lives”. “Thousands have had to leave their homes and move to neighboring countries or be internally displaced,” he added.
“Child protection is another fundamental factor. With many unaccompanied minors or minors arriving with their mothers, the risk of abuse, exploitation and human trafficking really increases,” he assured, although explaining that many of them try to follow the school year online.
However, “the risks for the refugees are very serious as the situation is ongoing and the conflict is becoming more chronic”, so that “the countries must react to integrate them into the education and health systems”. “This will not allow host families and communities to hold out any longer,” he concluded.