Since the start of the Russian invasion, more than two million people have fled Ukraine. The European Union is being told to prepare to take in up to five million Ukrainian refugees, CNN’s Anderson Cooper reported from Kyiv.
In the future, the question arises: how will other European countries deal with the constant influx of refugees?
“The numbers are just staggering. They’re coming in, in the hundreds of thousands at this point,” said Chris Skopec, executive vice president of Global Health at Project HOPE. “We saw two million in 10 days. We’ve never seen anything like it.”
Poland alone has seen 1.2 million refugees cross its border and, as Skopec notes, the Polish government itself has offered an outpouring of support.
“They help them access shelter, clothing, food,” he told Cooper.
With regard to the Skopec organization in particular – Project HOPE – the focus is on the most immediate and basic needs, including medical services for refugees upon arrival.
“The situation inside Ukraine is such that the primary health care system has been devastated. Hospitals are completely out of supplies…and desperately need more support. People are arriving after days and days of trying to travel and get into a refugee country, a host country. They go through. We see exhaustion, dehydration, gastrointestinal problems and certainly a lot of emotional problems and traumatic, just in the way they’re able to deal with what’s going on,” Skopec said, adding, “The ability to immediately get us medical care on a priority basis, screen them, try to figure out what support and what assistance they need…that’s really what our top priority is right now.”
As the number of refugees is expected to increase in the coming weeks, Skopec is moved by the generosity of spirit he witnesses from humans willing to help one another.
“We see a large number of people coming from all over Poland, good-hearted individuals, hoping to try to help and provide people with routes, houses to stay, temporary shelters, so that they have [a] the place to go. Really, people are moving as quickly as they can through the border areas to get to the big cities,” he said.
Skopec then told the story of a woman who faced a range of emotions as she fled Ukraine for a safer space.
“I met a woman today just at the border, a Ukrainian, who on the one hand was laughing at how ridiculous she was getting on the first bus she could find to a town she had never heard of in Germany, and then the next second turns around and just cries about the fact that she had to leave behind her two sons and her husband, and was all on her own and had no idea what she was was going to do, and where she was going to go,” he said.
A Ukrainian refugee has fled to Moldova. Here’s what she told CNN’s Ivan Watson: