Sports arenas

Sports arenas used to house Ukrainian refugees

Jhere is a 4,000 kilometer route between kyiv in Ukraine and Leiria in Portugal. This trip would take you through Poland, Germany, Belgium (leaving the Netherlands a few kilometers to the north), France and Spain. It is a journey that Olga Postolenko knows it well, because it is the one she made with her children.

Thousands of other people have made this trip or similar trips in just a few weeks. It is a trip that marks Europe from East to West, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine which led to the displacement of more than three million citizens.

“While heartened by the welcome I have received, I am deeply saddened for Ukraine and its people,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Philip Grandi.

Postolenko now lives in a box converted into a dormitory. It is a scene repeated in the Dr. Magalhaes Pessoa stadium, built for Euro 2004 and equipped with beds and bunk beds, depending on the size of the families, as well as common rooms.

Among the first things Olga sees every morning is the land and the green color brings back memories of his country.

“Everything is fine, but I’m starting to think about Ukraine, how it is now and, at the same time, how it will be managed because the whole world should be like Portugal: calm,” she says. to the media.

Ukrainian refugees in other parts of Europe

The problem has spread far and wide, with many traveling to Poland, as it is the closest geographically.

The number of people crossing daily has decreased since the early days, but border guards say it is still around 100,000 a day.

This means that all available places were used to shelter Ukrainians fleeing the war, such as stadiums or arenas.

“We thought there would be a first wave of refugees and then the government and the European Union would help us significantly, but it seems they left us alone,” says Andrzej WnoukMayor of Zamosc.

“We need financial help or the quality of our hospitality will drop drastically.”

It is the same in Moldova, where the number of inhabitants is said to be around 300,000. Two-thirds of them would have passed through the country in transit to a third country, but the others intend to stay. until the end of the conflict.

In Chisinau, nearly 200 Ukrainians stay at the Manege Chisinau Sports Arena Center. Their food, which usually consists of hot soup plus another dish, as well as bread and fruit, comes from the municipality and from private donors.