Tourists arrive in Constanta. Where will refugees from Ukraine go? | War in Ukraine

Then tears flowed as he opened them to admire the Black Sea. Our Black Sea, he said. It reminds us of Odessa. We want to go home.

Elena Motasova and her fellow Ukrainians found themselves on a shores of the Black Sea.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexey Sergeev

We are also Olga, Larissa, Tatiana, Illia. Women between the ages of 30 and 75 walking hand in hand on the beach.

They are inseparable. However, they did not meet when they arrived in Constanta, Romania, on March 2. We all live in Odessa, Ukraine, but we haven’t met at home yet! Destiny has brought us together and we need each otherexplained Larissa Goubachova.

At the Hotel Mondial, just across the beach, they met. They had just fled the war, convinced at the time that their exile was temporary, but as the weeks passed, the war became more chaotic. But their friendship grew even stronger.

A client entered the hotel.

Hotel Mondial accommodated 159 Ukrainians who had to leave the rooms for the arrival of tourists.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Tamara Alteresco

The hotel lodged them free of charge, offering them three meals a day and comfort. There were children running near the reception, others playing hide-and-seek near the parking lot where municipal employees were busy tidying up the sidewalk and preparing the ground for planting flowers.

The tourist season is approaching and traders are preparing for it. Constanta’s empty beaches have been crowded with tourists since June.

Umbrellas without tourists.

A deserted beach in Constanta, Romania.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexey Sergeev

We have to leave, says Tatiana Inchenko, but we understand, this is normal. The hotel gave them a few days to leave their room. But he said he was lucky because a Romanian offered him a small studio in Mamaia, not far away.

But he had to find money to feed the family. It’s not easy to find a job, I don’t speak Romanian.

Tatiana and others in a hotel room.

Tatiana is packing her bags at the hotel. A good Samaritan offered him a studio for the summer.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexey Sergeev

And for another woman?

We haven’t found anything yetsaid Olga, the youngest in the group.

Do you have money?

Pretty much. I became a teacher in Odessa. But its economies are melting into the war that is sweeping.

Like all European Union countries, Romania offered temporary protection to Ukrainians fleeing the war. The country hosts more than 900,000, making it the second largest host after Poland.

And like the Polos, the Romanians fought, mobilized, contributed to receive them with dignity and compassion.

The time has come for the government to unite and support the efforts of civil society and private companiessaid Cosmin Berzan, a coordinator who bridges several NGOs in Constanta and other parts of Romania.

Cosmin Berzan on the beach.

Cosmin Berzan on the beach coordinates the activities of several NGOs in Constanta.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexey Sergeev

Cities like Constanta on the Black Sea coast are among the best placed to house Ukrainians emergencies, with hundreds of hotels empty during the winter months.

But the arrival of vacationers creates a lot of uncertainty.

Do you want them to stay? Yes, of course, but how ?, replied Stefan Onea, who is the manager of Hotel Mondial. The rooms were promised to tourists, and we actually needed the moneythe man explained, his throat dry.

Photo by Stefan Onea.

Stefan Onea, a Romanian hotelier, had no choice but to ask the Ukrainians to leave, although he had become close to his guests and wanted to keep them.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexey Sergeev

It contained 159 Ukrainians, including 60 children, for more than two months. The government promised him compensation of 10 euros per day per person. Almost nothing and anyway I haven’t received any pesos yetsaid Stefan.

Both of these rooms will be rented to tourists 10 times more, or 100 euros, minimum. We are a private company, we will not succeed if it does not have profitshe said.

Smiling, his wife, Corina, adds that her husband is so involved and attached to his Ukrainian guests that he hardly sees them anymore! Seeing them go back into the unknown is as painful.

Corina heavily blames the Romanian government and what she sees as its inaction. Adrian, another hotelier, added that the European Union is no better because it has been slow to develop a long -term plan to manage a crisis that is far from resolved.

The Romanian government is struggling to take care of us, its own people. How do you want him to handle this crisis? It is Europe that must wake upespecially since the war is obviously getting longer.

Five billion euros have been planned and promised for all member countries that have opened their arms to Ukrainians, including Romania. But we still do not know the last day of distribution of these funds for housing, food and education of children.

In the meantime, Cosmin is arranging donations. He helped build a small school for Ukrainians in downtown Constanta, but no one spoke Romanian.

It’s like a cage, laughed Ludmila Inchenko when she opened the door for us, behind the bars. The building is certainly a bit dilapidated, but full of life, with drawings on the walls and cries of children.

Ludmila just received soccer balls from UNICEF. We only have one and the little ones are fighting it.

Ludmila was also a Ukrainian who fled the war, as were the teachers who came to give their time to take over the children. They were excited this morning, and proud to capture. They try to sing an old Ukrainian Cossack song to us

Children in the class.

Children from the Odessa region of Ukraine are finishing the school year in Constanta.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexey Sergeev

To see them united like that, abroad, touches me, it’s incredible, and I have chillssaid Lyudmila.

In the back of the class, young Sacha doesn’t take her eyes off us. He pulled out a small piece of paper and waved at me, but quickly hid it under his desk when the lady approached him. He ended up telling us his little secret when he returned to painting.

It is a drawing with the Russian flag and beheaded. It’s Putin, Sacha said.

Sacha was sitting at a desk.

Sacha hid a small stripe of the Russian flag and Vladimir Putin’s head under his desk. His father remained in the Odessa region to stand in the Russian army.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexey Sergeev

These children left all the south of Ukraine in difficult conditions, their house burned down. Their fathers remained to defend their country.

I talk to her every day, said Amma, a mother who came to pick up her son, but the difficulty, we did not expect to last. He resigned to his new life in Romania, without his wife and in no way.

Luckily, he also met a good Samaritan who accommodated him with his children. But most of the families who go to school are in hotels, Ludmila says, and I’m worried about the parents. They have settled in and still need to change location, and the rent is very high now.

But Olga, Elena, Tatiana, Illia, Larissa especially did not dare to complain. The Romanians, may God protect them, have welcomed us, and we love them for their generositysaid Elena.

They also, like children, begin to sing their homesickness as if out of survival instinct. Odessa, their home, their men, their lives are very close, but they don’t seem very far away.

The women are walking on the beach.

Report by Tamara Alteresco

Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexey Sergeev

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