Since the start of the Russian invasion, more than two million people have fled Ukraine. The European Union is being told to brace for as many as five million Ukrainian refugees, CNN’s Anderson Cooper reported from Kyiv.
Moving forward, the question stands: how are other European countries going to handle the steady influx of refugees?
“The numbers are just staggering. They’re coming in, in the hundreds of thousands at this point,” said Chris Skopec, executive vice president of Global Health at Project HOPE. “We’ve seen two million in 10 days. We’ve never seen anything like this.”
Poland alone has seen 1.2 million refugees cross its border, and as Skopec notes, the Polish government itself has offered an outpouring of support.
“They’re helping them get access to shelter, to clothes, to food,” he told Cooper.
As for Skopec’s organization specifically — Project HOPE — the emphasis is on the most immediate, basic needs, including medical services for refugees upon arrival.
“The situation inside Ukraine is such that the primary health care system has been devastated. Hospitals are completely out of supplies … and just desperate for more support. People are coming after days and days of trying to travel and get into a refugee country, a hosting country. They are coming across. We’re seeing exhaustion, dehydration, gastrointestinal issues and certainly a lot of emotional and traumatic issues, just in how they are being able to cope with what’s happening,” said Skopec, adding, “The ability to get us medical care immediately as a matter of priority, screen them, try to understand what support and assistance they need … that’s really what our top priority is right now.”
With the number of refugees expected to increase in the coming weeks, Skopec is moved by the generosity of spirit he’s witnessing from humans willing to provide assistance and aid to each other.
“We’re seeing a huge number of people coming from around Poland, individuals out of the goodness of their heart, hoping to try to help out and provide people with rides, homes to stay in, temporary shelters, so they have [a] place to go. Really people are moving as quickly as they can through the border areas getting into major cities,” he said.
Skopec went on to share a story of a woman who was dealing with a range of emotions as she fled Ukraine for a safer space.
“I met a woman today right at the border, a Ukrainian woman, who on one hand was laughing at how ridiculous it was that she was getting on the first bus she could find to a city she’d never heard of in Germany, and then the next second turns around and is just weeping at the fact that she had to leave behind her two sons and her husband, and was all alone by herself and had no idea what she was going to do, and where she was going to go,” he said.
A Ukrainian refugee fled to Moldova. Here’s what she said to CNN’s Ivan Watson: