Romanians are uniting forces to help their neighbours fleeing Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.
A Facebook group, United for Ukraine, has doubled in size since Thursday to over 47,000 members at the time of writing.
Romanians in the group are offering free accommodation, transport, food, clothes and medicines to families with children and animals some Ukrainians have not left behind.
Romanians overwhelmingly offer to shelter Ukrainian refugees in their own homes
People are sharing details of how many refugees they can shelter in their own homes across the country – from capital Bucharest in the south of Romania to Iasi in the north-east and Constanta, a city by the Black Sea.
One person from Oradea city has offered to hire a van and travel between Ukraine and Romania to bring refugees to safety, and is fundraising with the promise that any lefover money would be donated to the same cause and transparently proved with receipts.
Meanwhile, Ukrainians have joined the group and are seeking help or sharing their gratitude towards their neighbours.
Anna Whirling, from Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, currently rocked by gunfire and explosions, asked if anyone could transport her from Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, to Bucharest or Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia.
“I am in Bucharest,” one person said, offering to do a return journey of over 600km: “I can take you from the border back to Bucharest. Free.”
Anastasia Vasilichko, from Ukraine, said: “Thanks to everyone who could help. Thank you very much!”
“We are all here to help,” the replies read.
Some Romanians are also offering translation services from Russian and Ukrainian, in order to be able to help those in need.
Free hotel accommodation offered by business owner and building shelters for refugee dogs
Director and writer Stefan Mandachi said that as of yesterday at 5.45pm Romanian time he checked in the first refugees at his hotel in Suceava in the north-east of the country, free of charge: a married couple with a child and a grandmother.
He said: “Refugees with children, women and dogs and cats have priority.
“We will build until Monday 30 enclosures and cages for refugee dogs, where we could fit approximately 40-50 animals, if they don’t bite each other. This would be an initial step.”
He added: “We will provide free of charge an events hall of 1,000 square metres for beds, if the authorities ask us to.
“Today I saw the biggest amount of cars from Ukraine in Suceava in my whole life. I said hi to all of them whilst in traffic!
“One of my friends entered the country from Ukraine through the Siret border and told me things are horror at the border. Ukrainian men can no longer leave the country, only women and children. Crying, shouting, etc.”
Under the state emergency law triggered by Ukraine, men aged between 18 and 60 can no longer leave the country and are not allowed to do so by the country’s border force.
Moldovan president says borders are open for transit or stay
Meanwhile, Moldovan president Maia Sandu said yesterday afternoon that the first Ukrainian citizens arrived in Moldova, with over 4,000 crossing being registered by the country.
She said: “The government has deployed temporary placement centers near Palanca and Ocnita.
“Our borders are open for Ukrainian citizens who need safe transit or stay.”