The refugees from Ukraine to Romania's southern border are mainly women, children and elderly people. Men, ages 18 to 60, can’t leave Ukraine if they’re eligible for the draft.

Ukrainians fleeing war are welcomed at Romania’s southern border

In the Ukrainian city of Odessa, fears of an attack there have led thousands to flee across the border.

The World

The refugees from Ukraine to Romania's southern border are mainly women, children and elderly people. Men, ages 18 to 60, can’t leave Ukraine if they’re eligible for the draft.

Raul Stef/The World

In Isaccea, on Romania’s southern border, a Ukrainian refugee named Anna has just arrived at customs and is having her passport checked.

Related: Many Ukrainians face a future of lasting psychological wounds from the Russian invasion

Anna asked that her last name not be used because her parents are still in the city of Kharkiv. The bombing has been really awful there, she explained.

Anna, a Ukrainian refugee who has just arrived in Isaccea, on Romania’s southern border, said that she feels let down by the international community.

Anna, a Ukrainian refugee who has just arrived in Isaccea, on Romania’s southern border, said that she feels let down by the international community.

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Raul Stef/The World

“I was born in Kharkiv, I studied in Kharkiv, I worked in Kharkiv, and it was my one home in this world. And now, I don’t have it.” 

Anna, refugee

“I was born in Kharkiv, I studied in Kharkiv, I worked in Kharkiv, and it was my one home in this world. And now, I don’t have it,” Anna said.

Related: The Ukrainian city of Lviv is a sanctuary. But a humanitarian crisis is deepening.

boat

A few hours from the city of Odessa, fears of an attack there have led thousands of people to flee across the border to Romania. Every few hours, a boat full of people and cars makes its way across the Danube River to customs in Isaccea.

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Raul Stef/The World

In Kharkiv, Anna worked as an attorney. After Russia began its invasion in Ukraine on Feb. 24, her family decided that she would leave Ukraine on her own, so she could find work abroad and send money home to help them get through the war.

“Actually, I [took] some classes in international law. And why did I do it if, in real life, it doesn’t work?” she said. “I saw, by my own eyes, dead people on the [ground] in my native city … and Putin can do this without any punishment.”

Related: 'We have compassion for them': Romania is taking in thousands of Ukrainian refugees

people arriving from Ukraine to Romania

Two million people have fled Ukraine in less than two weeks, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday. Thousands are arriving daily to Isaccea, on Romania’s southern border.

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Anna is among the 2 million people who have fled Ukraine in less than two weeks, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday. Many are also internally displaced as Russian forces continue to advance on the country from multiple directions.

Related: 'The risk of escalation is too great' for a no-fly zone in Ukraine, analyst explains

A few hours from the city of Odessa, fears of an attack there have led thousands of people to flee across the border to Romania. Every few hours, a boat full of people and cars makes its way across the Danube River to customs in Isaccea.

The refugees from Ukraine to Romania's southern border are mainly women, children and elderly people. Men, ages 18 to 60, can’t leave Ukraine if they’re eligible for the draft.

The refugees from Ukraine to Romania's southern border are mainly women, children and elderly people. Men, ages 18 to 60, can’t leave Ukraine if they’re eligible for the draft.

Credit:

Raul Stef/The World

Once at customs, refugees are directed to inflatable orange tents serving hot tea and sandwiches while they wait to go through passport control.

The refugees from Ukraine are mainly women, children and elderly people. Men, ages 18 to 60, can’t leave Ukraine if they’re eligible for the draft.

Every few hours, a boat full of people and cars makes its way across the Danube River to customs in Isaccea, on Romania's southern border.

Every few hours, a boat full of people and cars makes its way across the Danube River to customs in Isaccea, on Romania's southern border.

Credit:

Raul Stef/The World

Romania has taken in about 82,000 refugees, and its neighbor Moldova has taken in the name number. Separately, many people are just passing through both countries en route to Western Europe.

According to the UN refugee agency, approximately 260,000 refugees have fled Ukraine through Moldovan border crossings over the past two weeks.

Romania has taken in about 82,000 refugees, and its neighbor Moldova has taken in the name number. In Isaccea, alone, on Romania’s southern border, thousands are arriving from Ukraine.

Romania has taken in about 82,000 refugees, and its neighbor Moldova has taken in the name number. In Isaccea, alone, on Romania’s southern border, thousands are arriving from Ukraine.

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Raul Stef/The World

The community has stepped up to help here — many locals are volunteering at shelters and collecting donations, offering beds in their own homes.

The Ukrainan refugees at customs in Isaccea are mainly women, children and elderly people. Men, ages 18 to 60, can’t leave Ukraine if they’re eligible for the draft.

The Ukrainan refugees at customs in Isaccea are mainly women, children and elderly people. Men, ages 18 to 60, can’t leave Ukraine if they’re eligible for the draft.

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Raul Stef/The World

But it’s just a temporary solution. Both Romania and Moldova are among the poorest countries in Europe and don’t have the infrastructure to accommodate large numbers of refugees.

Once at customs in Isaccea, alone, on Romania’s southern border, refugees are directed to inflatable orange tents serving hot tea and sandwiches while they wait to go through passport control.

Once at customs in Isaccea, alone, on Romania’s southern border, refugees are directed to inflatable orange tents serving hot tea and sandwiches while they wait to go through passport control.

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Raul Stef/The World

Moldova is particularly vulnerable if this war continues and Russia’s invasion expands past Ukraine’s borders.

Once at customs in Isaccea, on Romania's southern border, Ukrainian refugees are directed to inflatable orange tents serving hot tea and sandwiches while they wait to go through passport control.

Once at customs in Isaccea, on Romania's southern border, Ukrainian refugees are directed to inflatable orange tents serving hot tea and sandwiches while they wait to go through passport control.

Credit:

Raul Stef/The World

That’s because Moldova does not belong to the EU or NATO, and it has a breakaway border region called Transnistria that favors Russia. This has Moldovans worried that the country could be Russia’s next target.

Unkrainian refugees wait in inflatable tents to keep warm before going through passport control at customs in Isaccea, on Romania’s southern border.

Unkrainian refugees wait in inflatable tents to keep warm before going through passport control at customs in Isaccea, on Romania’s southern border.

Credit:

Raul Stef/The World

​​Romania seems a bit more secure as it has protection through NATO.

The country is also becoming an important part of supply routes into Ukraine. With Ukraine’s airspace closed to civilian flights, trucks and vans are a common sight passing through these border crossings, bringing medical supplies and food into Ukrainian cities, and driving refugees into safety out of the country.

Raul Stef contributed to this report.