Prince Charles, who is visiting Romania, met with Ukrainian refugees on Wednesday, May 25th, at the Romexpo exhibition center to help those fleeing war in the neighboring country.
Accompanied by the Custodian of the Romanian Crown, Margareta, the Prince of Wales spoke with representatives of organizations that donate or work here, including World Vision, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, UNHCR, as well as City Hall representatives.
In the hall where refugees register for formalities, the head of the Emergency Situations Department, Raed Arafat, explained to the heir to the British Crown how Romania handled the refugee crisis.
Prince Charles then visited a room where food, toys, and pet food were stored, where some children ran around among those present and filmed themselves on their phones. In one corner, seven-year-old Tatiana was holding a large bouquet of flowers that she offered to the Prince on behalf of the Ukrainian children. He also received a basket of small painted wooden objects.
Tatiana’s mother, Diana, is from Mykolayiv and says she came to Romania a month and a half ago. Because her father is from the Republic of Moldova, she speaks Romanian. „I fled here with four children at once, without a husband”, she said, noting that her husband came to Bucharest a week and a half ago because he was exempt from joining the army, as the father of four children.
Diana rules out moving to another country. She says she wants to stay in Romania or return to her country at some point. „At least I can understand something here”, she said.
Ilona, 39, also came to Romania from Mykolayiv, 39, with her two daughters, Milana, five, and Arina, 15. She says that her apartment in Ukraine was destroyed by bombings and she has been living in Galaţi for almost three months.
At the Romexpo Center, those who have taken refuge from the war may receive various products based on vouchers.
The head of the General Directorate of Social Assistance of Bucharest, Cosmina Simian Nicolescu, says that in the two and a half months of the center’s existence, approximately 38,000 people came here, with a flow of 1,000 people per day, including many children under the age of three.
In the first six weeks after the start of the Romexpo donation project, he available products came exclusively from individual donations. Currently, most of them come from organizations and there is a need for products for small children: food for those who are starting the diversification process, diapers, summer clothes, hats. In total, more than 120 tons of products were donated to the center, in addition to clothes.
Beyond the products, at the center, Ukrainian citizens receive advice on their stay in Romania.
„The visit was short, but I think he left with a very good idea about how Romania reacted overall, Romania and the support of international organizations. (…) What he saw is how I worked at the citizen level, at the level of non-governmental organizations, at the level of local authorities”, Raed Arafat explained, after the Prince’s departure.
He said that the Prince’s message to Ukrainian families was one of „encouragement and hope that they will return home as soon as possible”.