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Russia Ukraine conflict

Jill Biden meets Ukraine refugees and volunteers in Slovakia

Published: Updated:

US first lady Jill Biden met Ukrainian refugees in eastern Slovakia on Sunday, the last full day of her tour of Romania and Slovakia to visit US servicemen deployed there and women and children who fled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Biden spoke to families, volunteers and local authority workers at a refugee center in the eastern Slovak city of Kosice, one of the main transit points for over 400,000 Ukrainian refugees who have crossed the border to Slovakia.

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The United Nations says 5.8 million people in total have fled Ukraine since Russia started what it describes as a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24.

US first lady Jill Biden, Slovakia's Prime Minister Eduard Heger and his wife Lucia attend a prayer led by an army chaplain in Vysne Nemecke, Slovakia, May 8, 2022. (Reuters)
US first lady Jill Biden, Slovakia's Prime Minister Eduard Heger and his wife Lucia attend a prayer led by an army chaplain in Vysne Nemecke, Slovakia, May 8, 2022. (Reuters)



“When the war started we understood that nowhere in Ukraine is safe,” Viktoria Kutocha, a teacher who fled the western city of Uzhhorod with her 7-year old daughter, told Biden.

Biden, the wife of US President Joe Biden, asked Kutocha how she explained the war to children.

“It’s very difficult to explain. I only said there is a war and I cannot explain because I do not know myself,” Kutocha said.

“It’s senseless,” Biden responded, before embracing the mother and her child.

Biden, who teaches English and writing at a community college in Virginia, also visited a local school attended by refugee children.

US first lady Jill Biden meets Slovak and Ukrainian mothers and their children as the families participate in a Mother's Day activity, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kosice, Slovakia, May 8, 2022. (Reuters)
US first lady Jill Biden meets Slovak and Ukrainian mothers and their children as the families participate in a Mother's Day activity, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kosice, Slovakia, May 8, 2022. (Reuters)



“The hearts of the American people are with the mothers of Ukraine,” she said, wishing the women at the school a happy Mother’s Day.

One woman there said she felt children needed to have the war explained to them.

“They need to understand why we are here and why we receive help - why are we separated from our husbands. They need to understand what is going on,” she said.

Later on Sunday, Biden and Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger visited Vysne Nemecke, the main road crossing on Slovakia’s 98 km (61 mile) border with Ukraine.

She expressed gratitude to officials and non-government organizations, and joined a brief prayer for refugees in an improvised chapel in one of many tents set up by aid groups.

Biden will leave the region on Monday after a four-day tour.

Most refugees who crossed into Slovakia have travelled onward to other countries, but over 74,000 have received temporary protection status in the country of 5.5 million.

Read more:

WHO verifies 200 attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine since Russian invasion

Russia lost 25,500 troops, 2,741 APVs in Ukraine since Feb. 24

The longer EU pays for Russian oil, ‘the longer this war will continue’: Ukraine FM

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