Since the onset of the Russian invasion on 24 February, EUBAM has played an essential role in facilitating the crisis management at the Ukraine-Moldova border. Being already present on the ground, the Mission was able to quickly assess the situation and start operating at critical locations, assisting refugees as well as border and customs authorities.
Despite harsh weather, short daylight time, and long working shifts, the Mission was always at the border to support Ukrainians fleeing from war. At the entrance to the BCPs EUBAM experts provided all the essential information, explaining border crossing procedures for the people, most of whom were leaving their country for the first time in their lives. Crossing the border in such harsh conditions may be very stressful for the kids, so the Mission’s experts offered them toys and sweets to give some comfort and joy. Whenever possible, EUBAM teams provided support and helped the refugees on the spot, especially women with small children and people in need, carrying their luggage and facilitating transportation for pedestrians. Moreover, at Starokozache, to help the people traveling without vehicles, EUBAM outsourced the transportation services to cover the distance between the Ukrainian and Moldovan BCPs, which is around one kilometer.
Considering that the final destination for most refugees was the European Union, EUBAM teams also explained entry requirements in the different EU Member States and advised on the best travel routes. To further facilitate the refugees’ transfer through the Republic of Moldova, EUBAM produced a guide with a map of transit routes to the EU and useful country-specific information, links, and resources. Now, EUBAM experts disseminate the guide at the border crossing points, and its electronic version is available on the Mission’s official website.
As of 6 May, more than 450 thousand Ukrainian refugees entered the Republic of Moldova, according to UNHCR data. A big part of them went to the Republic of Moldova in the first days – tens of kilometers-long car queues, hundreds of people, mainly women, children, and the elderly, were waiting to cross the border. Due to the unusually high number of refugees, border guard and customs officers were overloaded. To facilitate their work, EUBAM experts assisted in managing the refugee flow before the BCPs. Following the requests of the Moldovan side, EUBAM customs experts were also involved in the clearance of the increasing volumes of humanitarian aid entering Ukraine. At the same time, the Mission procured and donated first aid kits and meals ready to eat for the Ukrainian border authorities.
Being present at the Moldova-Ukraine border for 16 years, EUBAM used its vast experience to assist humanitarian NGOs, UN agencies, and other international organizations that came to help the Ukrainian refugees. EUBAM experts facilitated their interaction with Moldovan and Ukrainian border authorities on the ground and assisted in implementing their activities.