Millions are wandering amid temporary shelters afraid that death waits for them if ever they return to their homes. Many will never find the security of a home of their own again. Helpless and hopeless they stare into the future. So begins days of walking past deserted villages, crossing minefields and eating slices of dried bread. Mothers, children, widows and wounded men huddle in groups, their numbers dwindling as hunger and exhaustion daily claim lives. In frightened eyes there are millions of tears prepared to be cried for families left behind, tears for the bodies of their dead left unburied. We watch from the comfort of our living rooms as the innocent run for their lives.
Under the UN banner, refugees are divided into two groups. There are those who escape from their country because of violence or persecution and there are the displaced persons who have been forced from their homes because of war, yet reside in their home country. Statistics for 2022, state that there are approximately 82.4 million displaced persons globally. Of that number 26.4 are classified as refugees and 4.1 million are asylum seekers.
Following the first world war many ethnic minorities were persecuted. Millions became refugees. After the second world war much the same happened. Wars are localized now. They are just as traumatic. Civilians are still attempting to survive dodging bullets and collapsing buildings. Many wait until the very last minute to escape. It is their last choice. They seek admission to another country out of absolute necessity. It is not easy to obtain official recognition as a refugee. Fear prevents swift action. Fear that a large number of refugees will cause economic and political instability causes certain countries to hesitate and/or deny entry. Patience turns to terror. In their weakened condition, food running out, these innocent people do their best to face the severe hardships and uncertainties that have become their life.
It is a CRISIS. Presently, 5.2 Ukrainians are gone from their homes. Three million are reported to have found asylum in Poland. Not so surprisingly, given mankind’s resilience and courage in times of trouble, as of today, May 14, 2022, 1.5 million of those that left are returning. The situation remains unpredictable. In some areas of the country, there are civilians trapped by the ongoing fighting. If gunfire does not kill them, what will is a lack of food, water and medicine. Those who can are delivering supplies from west to east. Some organizations are providing cots for those who have taken refuge in bomb shelters. Throughout the Ukraine there are reception and transit points for those that decide to leave their farms or homes but remain in Ukraine. Unfortunately, as is often the case, there are those that exploit the vulnerable.
Not all are sympathetic to the plight of the refugee. Some in countries of Central and Eastern Europe are protesting the ‘privileges’ afforded to the refugees of Ukraine. Border crossings are being tightened between Ukraine and Slovenia. Lithuania is continuing to deploy troops along their border with Belarus.
Despite the growing references to the Ukraine/Russia war, the Russian populace are being warned daily to refer to the conflict as ‘a special military operation’.
A refugee’s problems will continue even if the fighting were to end today. Bullets are real. Death is real. The destroyed buildings will not magically be rebuilt. Starvation is threatening to afflict the many who depend on the harvests of Ukraine. Volunteers on the frontline are tiring. Babies are being born as the would be fathers are being killed. For the many watching this horror unfold, time has stopped. It stopped the moment the war began.