BWI affiliates open doors to Ukrainian refugees

After Russian President Vladimir Putin started his invasion of Ukraine, millions of Ukrainian people were forced to flee their homes and seek safe refuge either in the western part of the country or neighboring countries like Moldova, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Poland. According to the latest estimates, over 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees, in need of food and shelter, have managed to escape the armed hostilities. 

The massive exodus of Ukrainians started already during the first week of war. Civil society groups, including trade unions came to the government’s aid to help in the gargantuan humanitarian relief efforts. BWI threw its support to this initiative by giving an initial donation of CHF 4000 so that the trade unions can continue to provide shelter for the refugees.   

Anna Andreeva, BWI Policy and Campaign Officer and Gender Coordinator, was one of the refugees who left Ukraine on the 5th day of the war. Anna brought her family first to Moldova and later to Romania. 

“There are no words to describe what the Ukrainian people are going through. My family is not an exception. I will probably find the words later. But today, I would like to express my full gratitude to the trade unions who are working around the clock to help our people survive this tragedy,” Andreeva said.

In Moldova, The Trade union Labour Institute was transformed into a refugee center. As the majority of refugees are women with children, educational classrooms were transformed into children’s’ playrooms, and a small kitchen was made available for mothers to cook. Trade unionists have been bringing food and other supplies to Ukrainian families who left everything. 

In Romania, trade unions are part of a broader civil society movement that is helping Ukrainian people who managed to get to the country. The trade unions are helping with the humanitarian aid such as finding accommodation for Ukrainians and constantly looking for safe routes to get much needed relief inside Ukraine. 

“In Moldova and Romania, I met with trade union leaders and activists. Unions in both countries are shocked with the situation and committed to do everything that is possible to help Ukrainian people and stop the war. At the same time, they stay connected with the brave trade unions of Ukraine, such as the BWI-affiliated PROFBUD, to ensure humanitarian aid and solidarity support,” Andreeva said.