"Once we win we will go back to our country", " once we win we will rebuild our city", "once we win we our culture will be stronger than ever". These are some of the most common statements all displaced and Ukrainian refugees tell me when I meet them, either in Ukraine or across the border.
According to the April 2022 IOM internal Displacement report, there are 7,707,000 internally displaced persons within Ukraine. 2,850,000 of these only in West Ukraine. The number of the ones crossing the border with Romania is constantly changing, but the first weeks of the war the average was 5000 people a day.
Since the Russian full-scale invasion started, Chernivtsi, a city 40 minutes driving from the Romanian border, has become one of the main destinations, especially for people fleeing from the south east regions. Hotels, churches, schools, warehouses and other facilities have turned into welcoming centres or distribution hubs, where donations and provisions are stocked, organised, packed and shipped throughout the country everyday by thousands of volunteers.
“Until the war is over, there is no me any more, I don’ t exist. I’m just a tool to continue the fight for the people in need” says Denny Fedko.
Taking action and helping, in any way possible, is now a duty and a mission for most of displaced Ukrainians and not only. Crossing the Ukrainian-Romanian border means arriving in a very small city of 8000 inhabitants, Siret, a city that has never seen such an emergency and that had to quickly find a way to intervene.