Prince Charles of Wales, visiting Romania on Wednesday, met with Ukrainian refugees at the Romexpo Center organised in Bucharest for displaced people who flee the war in the neighboring country.
Accompanied by Custodian of the Crown of Romania, Margareta, the Prince of Wales spoke with representatives of organizations that donate or work here, including World Vision, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, UNHCR, as well as City Hall representatives.
In the refugee registration hall, head of the Emergency Department Raed Arafat explained to the heir to the British Crown Romania’s actions in the refugee crisis.
Prince Charles then visited a storage room for food, toys, and pet food where several children were chasing each other and filming themselves on their phones. Seven-year-old Tatyana offered the Prince a large bouquet of flowers on behalf of the Ukrainian children. The royal visitor also received a basket with small painted wooden objects.
Tatyana’s mother, Diana, is from Mykolaiv and says that she and her children have taken refuge in Romania a month and a half ago; she speaks Romanian because her father is from the Republic of Moldova. “I fled here with my four children, but without my husband,” Diana said, adding that he has joined them a week and a half ago because he was exempt from conscription on ground of being a father of four.
Diana rules out going to another country and is determined to stay in Romania or return to Ukraine.
39-year old Ilona also arrived from Mykolaiv together with her two daughters, Milana – five, and Arina – 15. Their apartment in Ukraine was destroyed by shelling and she has been living in Galati for almost three months now.
At the Romexpo Center, the refugees can get various products in exchange for vouchers.
The head of the Bucharest Social Assistance General Directorate Cosmina Simian Nicolescu says that in the two and a half months since being set into operation, the center has received approximately 38,000 people, at a daily rate of 1,000, including many children under the age of three.
In the first six weeks since the start of the Romexpo donation project, products came exclusively from individual donations, but now the bulk comes from organizations. More than 120 tons of products were donated to the center, apart from clothing, but there is a high need for children’s products – food for babies starting the diversification process, diapers, summer clothes.
At the center, Ukrainian citizens are also offered counseling on their stay in Romania.
“The visit was short, but I think he left with a very positive idea about Romania’s response overall and the support of international organizations. (…) He saw our way of handling at individual level, at the level of non-governmental organizations, at the level of local authorities,” Raed Arafat explained after the departure of Prince Charles, adding that the royal’s message to the Ukrainian families had been one of “encouragement and hope that they will return home as soon as possible.”
Photo: Alex Micsik, Agerpres