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Meet the Europeans going out of their way to help fleeing Ukrainians

A child collects toys near a clothes donation point as refugees fleeing conflict in Ukraine arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Poland on 28 February 2022.
A child collects toys near a clothes donation point as refugees fleeing conflict in Ukraine arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Poland on 28 February 2022. Copyright Visar Kryeziu/AP Photo
Copyright Visar Kryeziu/AP Photo
By Lauren ChadwickDavid Mac Dougall
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In Romania, people are offering housing and support and in Poland, activists say there's a national mobilisation to help Ukrainians.


After war broke out in Ukraine last week and tens of thousands began to flee to neighbouring EU countries, Diana Avram posted a message on social media offering to house Ukrainians in her dance school.

"The decision to help people came straight away in my mind because we had a dance school in Timişoara and we have enough space to accommodate people," Avram, a 37-year-old dance teacher in Romania, told Euronews.

She was quickly put into contact with multiple families fleeing the violence.

"I know there is a big community of dancers in Ukraine and I just love to think that we are a community and we have to help each other," she said.

She's joined a Facebook group dedicated to sharing information about people who need accommodation and those offering help.

A local mayor in Romania recently posted in the group that she could accommodate more than 50 people in her town and had a bus ready at the border.

Others are sharing their phone numbers to connect families with possible places to stay.

Diana Avram
A dance teacher in Romania is helping to accommodate Ukrainian refugees.Diana Avram

Humanitarian aid and human rights organisations across Europe are also now converting their work to help Ukrainians attempting to flee the country.

In Poland, Marta Lempart, the leader of the Polish Women's Strike, said that nearly 80% of her organisation's work was now focussed on helping out Ukraine.

The organisation transformed their 300-metre office space in Warsaw into accommodation for Ukrainian families.

Volunteers are bringing blankets, food and water to the border and return to Warsaw and other areas of Poland with refugees.

"(The volunteering is at) a scale that I've never seen. I think it's thousands and thousands of people... this is a national mobilisation," Lempart told Euronews.

In Scotland, organisations have joined the effort to collect items to help Ukrainian refugees, following an appeal from a Polish women's charity.

"It was just so moving, it really was," says Danielle Flecher-Horn, CEO of AberNecessities charity. "I know that a lot of the community wanted to pull together and do something," she said

This week, volunteers have been taking deliveries of essential items like blankets and sleeping bags, toiletries, items for children, sterilising tablets, protein bars, and clothing.

A charity in Scotland is sending humanitarian aid in trucks.Abernecessities

"We're still collecting dry food items, baby nappies and wipes. Lots of toiletries. There's been a lot of first aid supplies delivered to us which has been fabulous. That's been one of the top priorities, even simple things like plasters, that's been really important" says Flecher-Horn.

"But also things like children's activities, a colouring book and crayons, that's good as well."

All of the items are boxed up and marked as humanitarian aid at the Aberdeen collection point and then loaded on vans going out to the Poland-Ukraine border.


"We've had a really good response from the local community as well, we've had offers of vans and we've got a lorry that's going to be going across to Poland just with our items which is really really amazing."

The cost of fuel for the drive out to Poland has been covered with a fundraising drive which raised more than seven thousand euros.

More than 660,000 Ukrainians have fled the country since Russia invaded, according to the UN refugee agency. Another one million are estimated to be internally displaced within Ukraine.

Petr Štefan, who works with the Czech NGO People In Need, witnessed the chaos at the border just yesterday and is helping to coordinate aid from western Ukraine.

"There are long queues of cars, people waiting in the freezing temperatures there for up to two days across the border from Ukraine to Poland," he said.


In Ukraine, the organisation will work to install toilets and hot meals for those queueing up to cross into Poland, Slovakia, Moldova and Romania. They're also transporting humanitarian aid to Kyiv.

In Romania, Avram said she's still waiting for information about a mother and her small child who were trying to cross the border but couldn't because the child did not have a passport.

"I heard from four people that ran away with the clothes they have on themselves, you know, without money, without anything with them. They just run away as fast as they could," Avram said.

The mobilisation in Romania reminds her of when she was a child during the revolution in 1989.

"The whole community got together to face communism, and we were actually Timișoara was the first free city in Romania because people were very strong against the system," she said.


Lempart says many Ukrainians have been surprised by the support but she says they're holding the fort for the rest of Europe.

"Ukrainian soldiers are fighting for all of us. I know the West doesn't believe that, and I know the West doesn't care. But this is the fight for European values," Lempart said.

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