Mohsen Janbozorgi left his car kilometres from Siret and crossed the border between Ukraine and Romania on foot. “The traffic jam was too long, we were running out of petrol, and we couldn’t wait any longer in these temperatures,” says the 56-year-old. Mohsen Janbozorgi fled Kiev with his wife, two children (9 and 16) and his son’s 18-year-old girlfriend when the bombs were already hitting. “When the rockets fell next to our house, I knew: now we have to leave.” The carpenter had come to Ukraine from Iran 30 years ago in search of work. He fell in love, started a family and called the country home until recently. Now he is in Romania, but he does not want to stay here. He keeps asking where he can find the bus to Germany.
People willing to help
On that day, 9 March, when Mohsen Janozorgi crossed the border into Romania, a total of 30,000 Ukrainians entered the neighbouring country. Most of the refugees arrive in Siret in the north of Romania on foot or by car. They receive a warm welcome, with signs in Cyrillic script, hot food – and many helping hands. Dozens of international organisations, medical staff and translators are ready to help. Tent after tent is lined up on the Romanian side of the border, between snow-covered grass and glowing warm mushrooms. An icy wind blows, the thermometer shows minus degrees. The arrivals are calmly received by volunteers and firefighters and the first thing they are asked is what they need. At the beginning, the situation here right at the border was not so well organised, says Simon O’Connor from the organisation O Noua Viata Foundation in Siret. “In the beginning, everyone practically threw themselves at the arrivals, completely overwhelming them. As the days went by, the necessary calm and structure came.” Along with Moldova, Romania is the poorest country in Europe. However, the willingness of the population to help is huge: people share what little they have. People from the villages cook warm meals for the refugees and bring them to the emergency centres. Nappies, clothes, blankets, mattresses are donated.