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Russia Ukraine conflict

Jill Biden lauds Romanian efforts to help Ukrainian refugees

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US first lady Jill Biden on Saturday praised the Romanian government and relief organizations for the range of humanitarian aid they are providing to Ukrainians who are fleeing Russia’s war against their country.

She called the show of solidary “amazing” but also “just the beginning.”

Biden delivered her sober assessment at the conclusion of a nearly hourlong briefing at the US Embassy in Bucharest on the massive relief effort.

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She was told that Romania had “welcomed” nearly 900,000 refugees from Ukraine since Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24, but most have moved on to other countries. Women and children are the bulk of the refugees.

“It’s amazing. It’s solidarity here in Romania that you’re all working together,” Biden said. “I think this is really, unfortunately, just the beginning. Just the beginning.”

She also applauded Romanians for their generosity.

“The Romanian people are amazing, to welcome all these refugees into their homes and offer them food and clothing and shelter and give them their hearts,” she added. “I think the world knows that.”

Around 7,000 Ukrainians cross the border and arrive in Romania daily, said Pablo Zapata, the Romanian representative for the UN refugee agency.

UN and other agencies and the Romanian government are providing refugees with a range of services, including food, shelter, education, health and mental health care, and counseling, among other services.

Biden asked specifically about the provision of mental health services and whether summer school was available to help refugee students catch up on their education.

The first lady was briefed as she opened the second day of a four-day trip to Romania and Slovakia that was designed to showcase US support for Ukrainian refugees. Slovakia also shares a border with Ukraine. Biden was scheduled to spend Sunday there meeting with refugees.

After the briefing, Biden met with Romanian first lady Carmen Iohannis over lunch at her private residence. Iohannis kept her job as an English teacher just like Biden kept hers.

Biden then was touring a school and meeting Ukrainian refugee students and their parents.

She was ending Saturday in Bratislava, Slovakia, in preparation for stops their Sunday to spend Mother’s Day with refugees and visit a village on the border with Ukraine.

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