By Kester Kenn Klomegah*
MOSCOW | CHISINAU (IDN) — The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland, has documented almost five million refugees streamlining from the war-ravaged Ukraine crossing borders, most often with difficulties, especially into neighbouring Poland, Baltic republics, Moldova, Romania, and Hungary.
According to the statistics posted on its website, at the beginning of April more than five million people have fled Ukraine. Nearly 3.5 million refugees fled to Poland, 586,942—to Romania, 381,395—to Moldova, and 349,107—to Hungary.
United States and the European Union members have been soliciting support for the former Soviet republic of Ukraine, now experiencing tremendous atrocities and worsening humanitarian conditions as a direct result of Russia’s “special military operation” since late February.
Europe, especially Poland and the Baltics, has been experiencing massive influx of refugees as a direct result of the situation in former Soviet republic of Ukraine. Russia shares borders with Ukraine, which plans to join the European Union bloc and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Polish authorities repeatedly warned of the rising humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and said that if the situation remains unchanged there is a risk of having a massive refugee crisis of up to eight million displaced people. Refugees are also flowing into Moldova, which shares borders with Romania and Ukraine. Both Moldova and Ukraine have access to the Black Sea, thus ending its landlocked status.
The United States offers an additional $50 million to the $20-million assistance promised to Moldova earlier to help deal with the crisis caused by the influx of Ukrainian refugees, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at a joint press conference with Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita.
Thomas-Greenfield, who paid a one-day visit to Moldova, said the United States would provide Moldova with $50-million assistance to help deal with the crisis in addition to the $20-million aid promised earlier, which had begun to reach Moldova.
“The influx of refugees have recently subsided. Yet we realize the need for reserves. We have discussed the establishment of transit green corridors with other countries so that refugees could go straight to European nations,” Gavrilita said.
More than 390,000 people have arrived in Moldova from Ukraine since February 24. Out of that number, almost 100,000 people, including 48,000 children, are staying in the territory of Moldova.
Similarly, the European Union has provided a macro-financial assistance operation of €150 million in the form of loans and grants to Moldova, according to the press service for the Council of the European Union.
“The assistance shall contribute to strengthening Moldova’s resilience in the current geopolitical context, and covering Moldova’s balance of payments needs as identified in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme,” according to the press release published in Brussels.
This macro-economic assistance intends to support Moldova’s economic stabilization and reform agenda. The disbursement is expected to take place in three tranches to be released between 2022 and 2024. Of the total amount, up to €120 million will be provided in the form of medium- to long-term loans “at favourable financing conditions” and up to €30 million in the form of grants.
Early April, however, the Presidency of Maia Sandu vehemently reiterated that Moldova would retain its neutral stance and not join Western sanctions targeting Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. In her words, the conflict in the neighbouring country affected the economic situation in Moldova.
“We don’t have access to the markets of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. Exports and imports to those countries have been effectively blocked as a result of the conflict,” Maia Sandu said in Chișinău, capital of Moldova, commenting on the possibility of export-and import-related restrictions.
Besides, there is much of Moldova’s strong dependence on fuel deliveries from Russia. “Can we afford leaving our country without natural gas or electricity today? No, we can’t, for the sake of our citizens and for the sake of 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, including 50,000 children,” the Moldovan leader said.
The latest developments show that the Russian-Ukrainian peace negotiations still continue online this April. Local Russian media have reported that all the parameters of a written agreement would be thoroughly prepared before fixing concrete meeting date for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine leader President Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to various interpretations and assessments, Russia and Ukraine have the potential to bring their positions closer on Ukraine’s neutral status and security guarantees.
United Nations, and United States and Europe with the international community condemns the disregard to democracy and sovereignty and international law exhibited by Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, concerned about its security risks and lack of security guarantees from NATO observing its promise of not expanding further eastward, embarked on “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine on February 24 after both Federation Council and the State Duma (legislative chambers) approved and gave the greenlight for this this operation.
The world leaders still believe that all countries have to respect and operate within the confines of international law. That all countries must necessarily be guided profoundly by the principles of non-interference in internal matters, respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia is currently experiencing a raft of sanctions imposed by the United States and Canada, European Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and a host of other countries.
* Kester Kenn Klomegah is a frequent and passionate contributor to IDN. During his professional career as a researcher specialising in Russia-Africa policy, which spans nearly two decades, he has been detained and questioned several times by federal security services for reporting facts. Most of his well-resourced articles are reprinted in several reputable foreign media. [IDN-InDepthNews – 06 April 2022]
Photo: The Ukraine Refugees Response Moldova – IsraAID
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