Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees have been standing in lines in the freezing cold at Moldovan border crossings in recent days, with about 230,000 Ukrainians thought to have entered Moldova since February 24.
Few wish to stay in Moldova. About 150,000 refugees already crossed into Romania, from where they can travel to various countries in Europe.
A JTA reporter spoke to refugees from Odessa – Jewish and non-Jewish – who had just crossed the Moldovan border on six buses organized by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and will soon be continuing to Bucharest, Romania.
Sofia, one of the Jewish refugees from Odessa, told JTA that she is taking her elderly aunt out of Ukraine but after her aunt is settled, she intends to return to Odessa where her husband remains due to the mandatory draft order.
The JTA reporter asked what she thinks of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that he is “denazifying” Ukraine and she responded by gesturing to the people nearby, mostly Jews. “Look around you! Do you see this?”
“Very many Jews are leaving Odessa but every single one that I know says that they are already dreaming of when they can come back,” she said.
Vlada Ignatieve, 27, also entered Moldova on the buses organized by Odessa’s Jewish community and she hopes to travel to Switzerland.
“I am not Jewish, but today when I went down to the synagogue to catch the bus, I really felt like I was with my community,” she said. “How do I become Jewish?” she laughed.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)